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France's position toward Ukraine's pathway to NATO membership has evolved to reflect more support for Ukraine accession ahead of a major alliance summit next month in Vilnius, French newspaper Le Monde reported, citing its sources.
Security guarantees for Ukraine and the question of NATO membership were discussed at a June 12 French defense council meeting at the Elysee Palace, according to Le Monde.
Le Monde's sources said that Ukraine joining NATO could be considered as a mechanism to discourage Russia from continuing the war or, if the conflict should stop, prevent further aggression.
This new approach reflects a meaningful evolution in France's position towards Ukraine's integration into NATO. Previously, French President Emmanuel Macron said he favored "stronger, concrete very clear security guarantees" for Ukraine by NATO member countries over membership.
Paris is now getting closer to the positions of countries of central and eastern Europe, namely Poland and the Baltic States, which have been advocating for Ukraine's accession to NATO, according to Le Monde.
Germany and the United States have pushed back on discussions of Ukrainian NATO membership. President Biden recently told reporters that he would not ease membership restrictions as Ukraine must meet the same standards as other NATO members.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has also stated that an invitation for Ukraine to NATO will not be discussed at the upcoming summit, but that NATO members will instead explore ways to bring Ukraine closer to the alliance.
Next month, NATO's 31 member states will meet in Vilnius to discuss a number of issues, including potential security guarantees for Ukraine.