Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky will skip a NATO meeting in Lithuania in July unless the alliance provides Kiev with the security guarantees it wants, the Financial Times reported on Wednesday, citing people familiar with the matter.
Zelensky has “made clear to NATO leaders that he will not attend the Vilnius summit without concrete security guarantees and a road map for accession,” the newspaper said.
Ukraine formally applied to join the US-led bloc in September 2022, arguing that the collective defense it provides to members is necessary for Kiev’s security against Russia. Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty stipulates that an armed attack against one NATO member “shall be considered an attack against them all.”
While Ukraine’s bid has been strongly endorsed by the Nordic and Baltic states, as well as Poland, French President Emmanuel Macron suggested on Wednesday that Kiev could be offered “something between the security provided to Israel and full-fledged membership.”
FT cited four unnamed officials in April as saying that the US and Germany were against offering Kiev “deeper ties” to the alliance, including a potential roadmap.
“We will look for ways to support Ukraine’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations but right now the immediate needs in Ukraine are practical and so we should be focused on building Ukraine’s defense and deterrence capabilities,” Dereck Hogan, the top State Department official responsible for European affairs, said last month.
Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte, who will host the NATO event on July 11-12, was quoted by Reuters as saying on Friday that it would be “very sad” if anyone could interpret the outcome of the Vilnius summit as “a victory of Russia.”
Moscow views NATO’s eastward expansion as a threat to its national security and has cited the bloc’s open-door policy as a reason for the military conflict with Ukraine. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Galuzin said recently that Ukraine’s neutrality was one of the conditions for a lasting peace between Ukraine and Russia.