Lithuanian President calls on allies to offer Ukraine simplified accession to NATO

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda called on NATO allies to offer Ukraine a simplified accession to the Alliance at the summit in Vilnius to increase the effectiveness of Ukrainians on the battlefield.

As reported by Reuters, Nauseda said that boldness in formulating prospects for NATO membership would increase Ukraine’s effectiveness on the battlefield. At the same time, Russia will perceive caution as a sign of weakness.

“We should not hesitate to take bolder decisions because otherwise, the Putin regime will decide that Western allies are too weak, that they should be cornered, and they will give up,” Nausėda said.

The Lithuanian president noted that at the NATO summit in Vilnius, Ukraine could be offered the promise of an easier path to membership in the Alliance after the war, as there are “certain shifts in the minds of leaders who are wary of stronger language regarding Ukraine’s membership in NATO.”

“We all understand that now, amid the war, Ukraine cannot join NATO immediately. We understand this. Ukrainians understand this. But we need to create procedures on how to proceed… so that we don’t lose time if the war ends and Ukraine wins.”

He also added that he expects Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to attend the summit: “I hope he will be here and he will play an important role in the decision-making in Vilnius.”

Nauseda says that several countries are preparing an additional military support package for Ukraine, which will be announced at the NATO summit.

Ukraine’s accession to NATO: statements

On 30 May, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba announced three steps for the success of the Vilnius Summit: “Strengthen institutional ties and assistance between Ukraine and NATO. Take a step towards Ukraine’s membership in NATO. Provide security guarantees on Ukraine’s path to NATO”.

On 10 June, Ukraine’s Deputy Defence Minister Volodymyr Havrylov expressed his belief that the July NATO summit in Vilnius would set out the algorithm for Ukraine’s accession to NATO. Subsequently, NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg says that Ukraine will become a member of the Alliance but that it is impossible to give exact dates of accession while the country is at war.

On 15 June, the European Parliament passed a resolution calling for Ukraine’s membership in NATO with 425 votes in favour. The next day, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba urged Stoltenberg to abandon the MAP if Ukraine joined NATO.

In return, US President Joe Biden said he would not mind removing the MAP stage for Ukraine’s accession to NATO. This would mean an easing of the accession procedure.

Later, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that Ukraine is a vital part of Europe’s defence and called on the allies to invite the country to join NATO. Already on 27 June, he noted that Ukraine has every reason to receive a political invitation to join NATO at the summit in Vilnius. And British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly assured that the country would support Ukraine’s accession to the Alliance under a simplified procedure.

On 30 June, US Ambassador to NATO Julianne Smith said that NATO member states were close to a consensus on Ukraine’s accession to NATO without the MAP.

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