by Stefan J Bos, Worthy News Chief International Correspondent
VILNIUS/BUDAPEST (Worthy News) – Tensions are emerging between NATO and war torn Ukraine, with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky criticizing delays in his nation’s membership of the alliance. Zelensky expressed his frustration Tuesday at the start of a two-day NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania.
He lashed out at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, saying in a statement that it’s “unprecedented and absurd” not to have a timeframe for Ukraine’s NATO membership, adding that “Uncertainty is weakness.”
At this stage, NATO members such as Hungary openly oppose Ukraine’s membership, citing the ongoing war and other concerns such as Kyiv’s perceived ill-treatment of minorities, including ethnic Hungarians.
Zelensky said he would openly discuss Ukraine joining NATO at the summit, pointing out that his nation is already integrated into the alliance.
When we applied for membership in NATO, we spoke frankly: de facto, Ukraine is already in the alliance. Our weapons are the weapons of the alliance. Our values are what the alliance believes in. And our defense is precisely the element of Europe’s formula that makes it united, free, and at peace.
If Ukraine joins, it will enjoy collective security, as NATO countries are obliged to defend fellow members who are attacked.
However, U.S. President Joe Biden cautioned that Ukraine needs more preparations for NATO. “I don’t think it is ready for membership in NATO,” Biden told the Cable News Network (CNN). “But here is the deal. I have spent, as you know, a great deal of time trying to hold NATO together. I don’t think there is unanimity in NATO about whether or not to bring Ukraine into the NATO family now, at this moment in the middle of a war,” Biden stressed.
“For example, if you did that, then, and I mean what I say, we are determined to commit to every inch of what is NATO territory. That is a commitment we all made, no matter what. If the war is going on, then we are all in a war. You know, we are in a war with Russia if that were the case,” the president warned.
He said, however, that the U.S. could offer Ukraine similar security guarantees as it does for Israel.
Yet following Biden’s comments NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg added to confusion but suggesting that Ukraine would get a roadmap on membership. “I expect allied leaders will reaffirm that Ukraine will become a member of NATO and unite on how to bring Ukraine closer to its goal,” Stoltenberg explained.
He also had good news for Sweden. In a significant turnaround, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan agreed to support Sweden’s entry into NATO. That also put pressure on Hungary, the only other military alliance state not yet ratifying the Nordic nation’s membership.
Erdogan had opposed Sweden’s membership saying the country hosts militants, mainly supporters of the Kurdistan Workers Party or PKK, who he accuses of organizing rallies and financing terrorist groups.
Stoltenberg reached the agreement after talks with Erdogan and Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson ahead of Tuesday’s NATO summit.
Hungarian legislators have also been reluctant to ratify Sweden’s membership as the country questioned Hungary’s democratic credentials and the rule of law situation.
Other thorny issues being discussed at the summit are plans by the United States to send cluster bombs to Ukraine, which several allies fear could lead to many civilian casualties.
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