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U.S. President Joe Biden has supported a proposal by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg to announce that Ukraine does not need to implement a "membership action plan" (MAP) to join NATO, Axios reported, citing two people familiar with the matter.
The MAP envisages a country being assessed step-by-step on its way to meeting specific criteria for NATO accession, which may take years or even decades. If Stoltenberg's proposal is accepted by other allies, Ukraine will follow the path of new member Finland, which skipped the MAP process.
At first, Biden was among those unwilling to go beyond the commitments made at the 2008 NATO summit in Bucharest that Ukraine would one day join the alliance, Axios wrote.
However, during a meeting between Biden and Stoltenberg on June 13, the NATO chief reportedly proposed to declare that Ukraine has made progress toward membership and won't need to complete the MAP process undergone by other Eastern European countries.
The simplified procedure would still oblige Ukraine to carry out reforms and, contrary to the wishes of Eastern European allies, would not set any time frame for Ukraine's accession, wrote Washington Post, which had first reported the White House tentatively backing the plan.
According to Axios' source, Biden supported Stoltenberg's bid, trying to find a compromise solution that would suit both Kyiv and all alliance members.
Ukraine applied for NATO membership in September 2022, half a year into the full-scale Russian invasion. Ukraine's accession to NATO has been a subject of discussions and disagreements for months.
In April, Stoltenberg said that all members have agreed for Ukraine to eventually join the alliance when the war ends. However, earlier this month, President Volodymyr Zelensky said there was "no point" in attending the Vilnius meeting unless the alliance offered a membership invitation or "some kind of signal."