From the: Vilnius Summit Communiqué Issued by NATO Heads of State and Government participating in the meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Vilnius 11 July 2023:
11. We fully support Ukraine’s right to choose its own security arrangements. Ukraine’s future is in NATO. We reaffirm the commitment we made at the 2008 Summit in Bucharest that Ukraine will become a member of NATO, and today we recognise that Ukraine’s path to full Euro-Atlantic integration has moved beyond the need for the Membership Action Plan. Ukraine has become increasingly interoperable and politically integrated with the Alliance, and has made substantial progress on its reform path. In line with the 1997 Charter on a Distinctive Partnership between NATO and Ukraine and the 2009 Complement, Allies will continue to support and review Ukraine’s progress on interoperability as well as additional democratic and security sector reforms that are required. NATO Foreign Ministers will regularly assess progress through the adapted Annual National Programme. The Alliance will support Ukraine in making these reforms on its path towards future membership. We will be in a position to extend an invitation to Ukraine to join the Alliance when Allies agree and conditions are met.
The statement ‘when Allies agree and conditions are met’ sets arguably a higher bar than the 2008 Bucharest Summit Declaration had promised:
23. NATO welcomes Ukraine’s and Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations for membership in NATO. We agreed today that these countries will become members of NATO. Both nations have made valuable contributions to Alliance operations. We welcome the democratic reforms in Ukraine and Georgia and look forward to free and fair parliamentary elections in Georgia in May. The Membership Action Plan (MAP) is the next step for Ukraine and Georgia on their direct way to membership. Today we make clear that we support these countries’ applications for MAP. Therefore we will now begin a period of intensive engagement with both at a high political level to address the questions still outstanding pertaining to their MAP applications. We have asked Foreign Ministers to make a first assessment of progress at their December 2008 meeting. Foreign Ministers have the authority to decide on the MAP applications of Ukraine and Georgia.
Also note that the ‘conditions’, just like the rules in the ‘rules based order’, are undefined. It seems like any NATO member will be able to define its own ones.
Also note this from the: Pre-Summit press conference by Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg ahead of the NATO Summit in Vilnius
Iryna Somer, Interfax Ukraine
Thank you Oana. Iryna Somer, Ukrainian News Agency Interfax Ukraine. I have follow up question on Mindaugas, regarding declaration. I do understand you can’t comment on the language which will in decleration regarding membership. But can you tell us how far or how close Allies are regarding wording in the declaration regarding a possible membership for Ukraine, which also will be satisfactory for Kyiv? Thank you.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg
We will provide support to Ukraine for as long as it takes. Because unless Ukraine wins this war, there’s no membership issue to be discussed at all.
Ukraine’s victory in the war, which is unachievable, is now a main condition for its admittance to NATO.
It wasn’t what the Ukrainian government had wanted to hear.
Via Strana.news (machine translation):
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky commented on Western leaders’ plans not to include any specifics on Ukraine’s NATO membership in a forthcoming statement.
“Now, on the way to Vilnius, we received signals that language without Ukraine is being discussed. And I want to emphasize that this wording is only by invitation, and not by Ukraine’s membership. It is unprecedented and absurd when there is no time frame for the invitation (! ), and for the membership of Ukraine; and when some strange wording about “conditions” is added even for inviting Ukraine …
It seems that there is no readiness either to invite Ukraine to NATO or to make it a member of the Alliance. Consequently, there remains the possibility of bargaining Ukraine’s membership in NATO – in negotiations with Russia. And for Russia, this means motivation to continue its terror. Uncertainty is weakness. And I will frankly discuss this at the summit,” Zelensky wrote.
Well. The little comedian seems disappointed. As if the whole play had not been obvious from the very beginning. Since 2008 the Ukraine was to be used as a tool to nag Russia. It is otherwise of little value. It will end up as a discarded rag while NATO will, in the end, again recognize the Russian Federation as the super power that that it is. NATO will have to relearn to listen to and negotiate with it.
Now lets wait and see what NATO’s climb down will do to the morale and motivations of the Ukrainian army and people.