President Joe Biden is preparing to sit down with Volodymyr Zelensky on Wednesday after the Ukrainian president exploded over NATO’s statement that it failed to provide a date by which Ukraine would be invited to join the alliance.
Zelensky had expected more from the summit of NATO leaders meeting here in Vilnius, but was instead presented with a statement saying he will join the powerful alliance “when allies agree and conditions are met.”
That came after Biden said before the summit that Ukraine was not yet ready to join, saying he brought it in the middle of a hot war that he fears could lead to “World War III.”
Zelensky upset some members of the US delegation with a Twitter outburst shortly before his arrival.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky came to the summit criticizing NATO allies for failing to provide a date by which Ukraine would be invited to join.
“It is unprecedented and absurd when a deadline is not set for either the invitation or the membership of Ukraine. While, at the same time, vague wording is added about the ‘conditions’ even for inviting Ukraine,” Zelensky said.
“This means that a window of opportunity to negotiate Ukraine’s NATO membership is being left in the negotiations with Russia,” he said. “And for Russia, this means motivation to continue its terror.”
He followed up with a speech to an adoring crowd in Vilnius’s town square, where locals have long memories of the decades when Lithuania was absorbed into the Soviet empire.
Joe Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, criticized suggestions that Washington was going soft on Russia by refusing to extend a formal invitation to Kiev for NATO membership.
Speaking at the NATO Public Forum event, Sullivan slammed anti-corruption activist Daria Kaleniuk after she suggested Biden was “afraid of Russia, afraid Ukraine will win.”
Biden’s top aide said: “The United States of America has worked to provide an enormous amount of capability to help ensure Ukraine’s brave soldiers have munitions, air defense, infantry, combat vehicles, mine clearance equipment and much more”. to be able to effectively defend against Russia’s attack and take back territory as well.
“I think the American people deserve a degree of gratitude from the United States government for their willingness to step up and from the rest of the world as well.”
In a thinly veiled jab at Ukraine’s criticism of its Western allies, Sullivan said some of the anti-US claims were “totally baseless and unjustified.”
Biden will appear later Wednesday with Zelensky to outline new security guarantees for Ukraine that will also be backed by G7 allies Britain, France and Germany.
But it will not go as far as the ‘attack on one is an attack on the whole doctrine’ which is the basis of NATO’s Article 5 mutual defense doctrine.
Ukraine is deeply suspicious of any less binding security “guarantee”, given that Russia’s invasion has already trampled on the so-called Budapest Memorandum under which international powers pledged to keep the country safe in exchange for Kiev giving up its nuclear weapons. from the soviet era.
White House national security official Amanda Sloat earlier spoke of NATO’s new joint statement on Ukraine for what she noted, as opposed to what Ukrainian President Zelensky said it lacked.
He spoke in the Vilnius city square and brandished a Bakhmut battle flag, speaking to his wife Olena Zelenska.
Biden, here with the NATO Sec. General Jens Stoltenberg warned against admitting Ukraine while it is at war.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky (right) and his wife Olena Zelenska (left) take part in a family photo before the social dinner during the NATO summit. Biden skipped the event
Turkish President Recep Erdogan, who met Biden, announced that he would back a bid to allow Sweden to join the group.
He called it “unprecedented,” adding in a call with reporters traveling with the president that “we reaffirm that Ukraine will become a member of the NATO alliance.”
He noted that the negotiators raised a ‘commission’ on Ukraine to a ‘council’.
In 2008, in a move still on the minds of diplomats gathered in Vilnius, members in Bucharest said Georgia and Ukraine would eventually become members of the powerful group. Russia invaded Russia months later.
Zelensky was less scathing in comments to reporters on Wednesday.
He said he is working to make sure Ukraine “will receive this invitation when security measures allow”, adding: “We want to be on the same page with everyone.”
It has a long history of demanding more, even from allies providing heavy weapons to help Ukraine fight invasion by Russia, often with useful results.
Writing on Telegram, he later thanked Australia after Canberra agreed to give Ukraine a new package that includes 30 Bushmaster armored vehicles after talks with the country’s prime minister, Anthony Albanese.