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U.S. President Joe Biden told reporters on June 17 that he wouldn't ease barriers to Ukraine's membership in NATO because the country has to meet the same standards as other members, CNN reported.
“I think they've done everything related to demonstrating the ability to coordinate militarily, but there's a whole issue of, is their system secure? Is it non-corrupt? Does it meet all the standards everyone, every other nation in NATO, does? I think it will. I think it can. But it’s not automatic,” he said.
Biden's stance contradicts previous reports that he had 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, according to Axios, citing two people familiar with the matter.
The MAP is a program of advice, assistance, and practical support tailored to the individual needs of countries wishing to enter NATO.
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 other allies accept Stoltenberg's proposal, Ukraine will follow the path of new member Finland, which skipped the MAP process.
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 the Washington Post, which had first reported the White House tentatively backing the plan.
Ukraine applied for NATO membership in September 2022, half a year into the full-scale Russian invasion.
According to the Washington Post, there is so far no consensus on Ukraine's NATO membership. While the Baltic nations and the Czech Republic want to speed up Ukraine's accession, big players like France, Germany, and the U.S. are hesitant.
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."