US President Joe Biden said Tuesday that he agreed on proposed language for Ukraine’s future ability to join NATO, comments that came moments after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky issued a blistering statement about that expected language, suggesting it did not go far enough toward his accession goals.
Russia’s war in Ukraine is among the top agenda items for NATO leaders along with discussing a future pathway for the war-torn country to join the alliance, which has prompted some division among leaders.
“We agree on the language that we proposed – and you proposed relative to the future of Ukraine being able to join NATO. We’re looking for a continued, united NATO,” Biden said in brief remarks alongside NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the summit site.
Zelensky said in a tweeted statement moments earlier that he has “received signals that certain wording is being discussed without Ukraine,” emphasizing that the “wording is about the invitation to become NATO member, not about Ukraine's membership.”
“It’s unprecedented and absurd when time frame is not set neither for the invitation nor for Ukraine's membership. While at the same time vague wording about ‘conditions’ is added even for inviting Ukraine. It seems there is no readiness neither to invite Ukraine to NATO nor to make it a member of the Alliance,” Zelensky said, adding, “Uncertainty is weakness. And I will openly discuss this at the summit.”
Zelensky will attend meetings with NATO leaders Wednesday in Vilnius and will meet one-on-one with Biden.
Biden has emphasized that Ukraine is not ready to enter NATO, telling CNN in an exclusive interview last week that Russia’s war in Ukraine needs to end before the alliance can consider adding Kyiv to its ranks.
Stoltenberg earlier Tuesday said he is "confident" that the summit will send "a positive and strong message" on Ukraine's path to membership to the alliance.
When asked whether NATO will issue an invitation to Ukraine, Stoltenberg replied, "You will see the language in a few hours because we are now finalizing the communique."