NATO looks to bridge gaps on Ukraine membership bid

Ahead of a July summit, NATO foreign ministers meeting in Oslo on Thursday will work to bridge differences over Ukraine’s bid for membership, increasing spending, and selecting a new alliance leader.

The Western military alliance formed almost 75 years ago to compete against the Soviet Union has been energized by Russia’s war on Ukraine.

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However, there remain disagreements on important subjects with less than five weeks till a summit of world leaders in Vilnius, Lithuania.

The most notable of these is Kyiv’s drive to join NATO, an organization where decisions must be made by agreement.

“There will be some challenging discussions among allies in the run-up to Vilnius, including on security guarantees or assurances for Ukraine and their desire for NATO membership,” alliance Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Tuesday.

“I cannot anticipate the outcome of the discussions, but what is clear is that all NATO allies agree that NATO’s door is open.”

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky, backed by NATO countries in eastern Europe, is calling for a “clear message” at the July summit that Kyiv will join once the conflict with Russia ends.

Ukraine admits that as long as hostilities continue to rage on its soil, it will not join. However, it wants the alliance to go beyond a nebulous 2008 commitment that it will eventually join NATO.

According to diplomats from NATO nations, the alliance’s leading military power, the United States, is hesitant to go beyond its commitment to membership from 15 years ago.

By joining NATO, Ukraine would come under the protection of the alliance’s Article 5 collective defense provision, which obligates all allies to assist in defending it in the event of an attack.

Despite the differences, NATO ambassadors are confident that the vigorous talks scheduled before the Vilnius conference will result in a solution.

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