Why Ukraine’s plea for NATO membership is such a profound dilemma for the West

Stephen Collinson
Stephen Collinson is a reporter for CNN Politics covering the White House, and politics across the United States and around the world.


President Joe Biden said before a critical trip to Europe that Ukraine is not yet ready to enter NATO. More to the point, the alliance is not yet ready for Ukraine to join in a historic step that could deter Moscow but that might also increase the risk of a US-Russia war.

Biden has staked his foreign policy legacy on arming Ukraine to repel the Russian invasion – most recently with a contentious decision to send cluster bombs. But he nevertheless sent a strong message to Kyiv in an exclusive CNN interview that its increasingly sharp campaign is unlikely to result in a certain date for NATO entry emerging from the alliance’s summit in Lithuania this week.

While some eastern European alliance members are bullish on an early timetable to welcome Ukraine, some first-generation states, including the US, are more cautious, partly due to fears that moving quickly on NATO membership could provoke the direct conflict with Russia that Biden is desperate to avoid.

“I don’t think there is unanimity in NATO about whether or not to bring Ukraine into the NATO family now, at this moment, in the middle of a war,” Biden said in an interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria broadcast on Sunday. The president said that the alliance needed to lay out a “rational path” for Ukraine’s membership but that it was still short of some requirements for joining, including over democratization.

While Biden said he had discussed the issue at length with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and had refused before the war to allow Russian President Vladimir Putin a veto on Kyiv’s eventual membership, his comments will disappoint Ukraine as it suffers through a horrific war that has seen multiple crimes against humanity. Ukraine has often warned it is fighting the West’s war against Russian expansionism and has weakened NATO’s top adversary in Europe, and so therefore has a moral case for the defense guarantees NATO states enjoy. But even Zelensky accepts that Ukraine cannot join NATO while the war rages on.

Text is available here.

Nazad na stranicu Preporučujemo

Najnovije vesti