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Biden and lawmakers urge for resolution to conflict with Russia prior to Ukraine’s NATO membership


Ahead of this week’s NATO summit in Lithuania, U.S. leaders are adamant that the war with Russia must cease before Ukraine is granted membership to the powerful military alliance.
President Biden, in an interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria that aired on Sunday, expressed his belief that there will not be a unanimous agreement regarding the issue of Ukraine’s membership while the nation is still embroiled in war.
Biden stated that the protection of every inch of NATO territory is a priority, and that Ukraine’s inclusion in NATO would essentially trigger a war with Russia. He also emphasized that it is premature to call for a vote on Ukraine’s membership as the country still needs to fulfill certain NATO qualifications. According to Biden, he and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky have extensively discussed the membership issue, establishing a rational path for Ukraine to qualify.
Biden affirmed that the United States remains committed to providing Ukraine with the necessary security assistance to defend against Russia.
Similar to Biden’s viewpoint, Rep. Michael McCaul, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, believes that talk of Ukraine’s membership is premature. McCaul highlighted the importance of Ukraine achieving victory against Russia in the counteroffensive, securing a ceasefire, and negotiating a peace settlement before joining NATO. Notably, immediate membership for Ukraine would invoke Article 5 of the United Nations and lead to war with Russia.
Sen. Christopher A. Coons voiced a similar perspective, stating that the war must culminate in a Ukrainian victory, and Ukraine must also join the European Union. This involves addressing issues such as transparency, rule of law, and civil society, providing a foundation for possible NATO membership in the future.
Ukrainian President Zelensky, in an interview with ABC News, asserted that inviting Ukraine into the alliance is a matter of political will. He emphasized the need for clear security guarantees from NATO nations in the fight against Russia, stating that it would send a crucial message that NATO is not intimidated by Russia. Zelensky noted that he will attend the upcoming summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, to expedite a solution and reach an agreement with Ukraine’s partners.
John Kirby, spokesperson for the U.S. National Security Council, expressed confidence that the upcoming summit will showcase strong commitments to Ukraine. He stated that NATO allies will demonstrate a unified approach, supporting Ukraine in its fight against Russia and making it evident that NATO is part of Ukraine’s future. Allies will continue to assist Ukraine in its defense efforts until the war ends and Ukraine becomes a NATO member.
While President Biden remains skeptical about Ukraine’s immediate accession to the alliance, he expressed optimism regarding Sweden’s potential NATO membership. However, adding a new member to NATO requires unanimous approval from all allies, and objections from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban have hindered Sweden’s path to membership.
Turkey has criticized Sweden for refusing to extradite individuals identified as terrorists by Turkey, including members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and individuals connected to an alleged plot against the Turkish government in 2016. Turkey has also expressed discontent over anti-Erdogan protests in Sweden and Quran burning demonstrations. On the other hand, Hungary has cited various reasons for rejecting Sweden’s accession, ranging from perceived hostility towards Hungary to a supposed decline in Sweden’s moral standing.
Biden, in response to Turkey’s criticisms, argued that it is not Swedes who are burning the Quran but rather immigrants residing in Sweden.
Nitasha Tiku contributed to this report.


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