NATO aims to close gaps in Ukraine's membership application
DailySun || Shining BD
NATO foreign ministers meeting in Oslo Thursday will try to narrow divisions on Ukraine's push to join, upping spending and finding a new alliance chief, ahead of a July summit.
The Western military alliance formed almost 75 years ago to compete against the Soviet Union has been energized by Russia's war on Ukraine.
However, there are disagreements on important issues with less than five weeks until a summit of world leaders in Vilnius, Lithuania.
The most notable of these is Kyiv's push to join NATO, an organization where decisions must be made by consensus.
According to alliance Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, "there will be some difficult discussions among allies in the run-up to Vilnius, including on security guarantees or assurances for Ukraine and their desire to join NATO."
I am unable to predict how the discussions will turn out, but it is evident that all NATO allies concur that NATO's door is open.
At the July summit, Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky is requesting a "clear message" that Kyiv will join once the conflict with Russia is over. Zelensky is supported by NATO nations in eastern Europe.
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 members, the alliance's dominant 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 clause, which obligates all allies to assist in defending it in the event of an attack.
Despite the differences, NATO diplomats are confident that the intense talks scheduled before the Vilnius summit will result in a compromise.
One choice is for nations to provide Ukraine with bilateral security guarantees outside the framework of the alliance.
France has indicated that it might be willing to offer a guarantee of some kind.
The viability of any commitments to Ukraine, however, is seriously in doubt.
Stoltenberg is advocating for a 10-year program to help Ukraine's military adopt Western standards, which would cost 500 million euros ($530 million) annually.
In addition to the tens of billions of dollars in weapons that allies have already sent, this would be sent.