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NATO affirms Ukraine's 'irreversible' path toward membership, $43 billion in funding for next year

by Rachel Amran and The Kyiv Independent news desk July 11, 2024 1:17 AM 3 min read
NATO Secretary Jens Stoltenberg on July 10, 2024 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)
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NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg clarified Ukraine's "irreversible" path toward NATO by emphasizing the alliance's ongoing commitments to Kyiv "constitute a bridge to Ukraine's membership."

"There is a strong message from NATO allies that we really want Ukraine to join, and we are working with Ukraine to make that happen," Stoltenberg said. "The full package we have with Ukraine, the long-term pledge, the delivery of more weapons, including more F-16s, the bilateral security agreements, and the package of interoperability. All of this constitutes, as we call it, a bridge towards membership. These are concrete actions that will bring Ukraine closer to membership."

Over the previous days of the summit, NATO allies have announced plans to provide Ukraine with a minimum baseline funding of 40 billion euros ($43 billion), a new military command in Germany to train and equip Ukrainian troops, and further air defense commitments.

In a longer statement published on July 10, the alliance affirmed Ukraine's "irreversible path to full Euro-Atlantic integration, including NATO membership." NATO allies also emphasized that decisions made during the summit and the NATO-Ukraine Council, as well as the Allies’ ongoing work, constitute a bridge to Ukraine’s membership in NATO.

"Ukraine’s future is in NATO," the statement reads. "Ukraine has become increasingly interoperable and politically integrated with the Alliance. We welcome the concrete progress Ukraine has made since the (2023) Vilnius Summit on its required democratic, economic, and security reforms.  As Ukraine continues this vital work, we will continue to support it on its irreversible path to full Euro-Atlantic integration, including NATO membership.  We reaffirm that we will be in a position to extend an invitation to Ukraine to join the Alliance when the Allies agree and conditions are met."

During a panel with U.S. Congressmen, Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen said that Ukraine's membership in NATO cannot happen while the country is in "open conflict with Russia."

"I think the goal is to provide a bridge to NATO membership," Shaheen said. "That's part of what our security agreements have been about, with the U.S. and Ukraine."

U.S. national security advisor Jake Sullivan also said that NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg will appoint a new senior NATO representative in Kyiv to "deepen Ukraine's institutional relationship with the alliance and serve as the focal point for NATO's engagement with senior Ukrainian officials."

Kyiv had voiced hope that this year's NATO summit would bring a more definite signal about Ukraine's future membership in the alliance. American officials made it clear that the country is unlikely to receive an invitation.

Partners assured Kyiv that the event would define a specific position for Ukraine's membership in the alliance, namely its irreversibility and the roadmap toward it, said Olha Stefanishyna, the deputy prime minister for European and Euro-Atlantic integration.

Ukraine war latest: F-16s from Netherlands, Denmark on their way to Ukraine, Blinken announces
Key updates on July 10: * F-16s from Netherlands, Denmark on their way to Ukraine, Blinken announces * NATO allies to announce $43 billion commitment to Ukraine for next year, White House says * New UK PM signals Ukraine can use Storm Shadow missiles to hit targets inside Russia * Hundreds want…

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