Home » Zelensky slams Biden’s ‘unprecedented and absurd’ stance on NATO membership

Zelensky slams Biden’s ‘unprecedented and absurd’ stance on NATO membership

by Mahmmod Shar

By Steven Nelson

VILNIUS, Lithuania — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky tore into NATO leaders including President Biden on Tuesday for not extending membership to his war-torn country — introducing fresh diplomatic drama into the annual gathering of the military alliance’s leaders.

Zelensky slammed the reticence as “weakness” and “absurd” just moments after Biden referred to the development of new language regarding his country’s potential NATO ascension.

“Now, on the way to Vilnius, we received signals that certain wording is being discussed without Ukraine. And I would like to emphasize that this wordxfing is about the invitation to become NATO member, not about Ukraine’s membership,” Zelensky tweeted.

“It’s unprecedented and absurd when a time frame is not set neither for the invitation nor for Ukraine’s membership. While at the same time vague wording about ‘conditions’ is added even for inviting Ukraine.”

Zelensky added: “It seems there is no readiness neither to invite Ukraine to NATO nor to make it a member of the Alliance. This means that a window of opportunity is being left to bargain Ukraine’s membership in NATO in negotiations with Russia. And for Russia, this means motivation to continue its terror. Uncertainty is weakness. And I will openly discuss this at the summit.”

US President Joe Biden (R) walks next to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (L) as he arrives for a visit in Kyiv on February 20, 2023.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky tore into NATO leaders, including President Biden, for not extending NATO membership to Ukraine.

The Ukrainian president arrived in Vilnius Tuesday afternoon and delivered a speech alongside Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda arguing for his country’s inclusion.

“This, the flag from Bakhmut means that Lithuanians will not be fighting Russian soldiers — not in Vilnius, not anywhere in your cities and towns,” he said.

“This, our flag, means that it will never happen — the deportations from Baltic states to Siberia and the dividing of Poland and there won’t be tanks in Prague and a Winter War against Finland. No more occupations in Europe, no more insulting the Hungarians.”

Shortly before Zelensky’s fiery tweet, Biden said during a meeting with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg that “we agree on the language that you propose, relative to the future of Ukraine being able to join NATO. And we’re looking for a continued united NATO.”

The wording that Biden alluded to was released later, saying vaguely, “We will be in a position to extend an invitation to Ukraine to join the Alliance when Allies agree and conditions are met.”

The document added: “We reaffirm the commitment we made at the 2008 Summit in Bucharest that Ukraine will become a member of NATO, and today we recognise that Ukraine’s path to full Euro-Atlantic integration has moved beyond the need for the Membership Action Plan.”

It also said: “Allies will continue to support and review Ukraine’s progress on interoperability as well as additional democratic and security sector reforms that are required.”

Biden said in a CNN interview that aired Sunday that he believes Ukraine is not “ready” for membership.

“I don’t think it’s ready for membership in NATO,” Biden told CNN’s Fareed Zakaria. “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.”

​​Zelensky slammed the reticence as a "weakness" and "absurd" on his Twitter account.
​​Zelensky slammed the reticence as a “weakness” and “absurd” on his Twitter account.

“We’re determined to commit every inch of territory that is NATO territory,” Biden noted. “If the war is going on, then we’re all in war. We’re at war with Russia, if that were the case.”

A six-senator delegation that met with Biden on Tuesday afternoon said they didn’t discuss Zelensky’s sharply worded tweet with the president, but some said the strident language was understandable.

“I think given his country is under attack, his civilians are being killed — I understand why he’s as passionate as he is. But I think President Biden has taken the right position,” Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) told The Post.

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said, “This man is facing a greater burden every day than I can possibly imagine. It’s been going on for a year and a half, he’s done an extraordinary job and he’s under pressure. There has to be a lot of stress.”

Durbin said that he is particularly concerned about corruption in Ukraine’s government and said that it was an “understandable” cause for concern among fellow NATO countries.

President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky.
Zelensky will arrive Wednesday in Lithuania for the annual NATO summit.

Sen. Pete Ricketts (R-Neb.) said that “this summit is about making sure we give Ukraine the tools they need to win the war … That’s going to be the first thing. Win the war here first, and other things will come down the road.”

Zelensky’s hard sell on adding his nation to NATO redirected attention from a breakthrough late Monday in which Turkey dropped its opposition to Sweden joining the alliance after months of diplomatic wrangling.

That impasse was expected to be a main sticking point for the conference.

Biden plans to meet with Zelensky before delivering a Wednesday evening speech about the Ukraine conflict.
Biden plans to meet with Zelensky before delivering a Wednesday evening speech about the Ukraine conflict.

Biden intends to meet with Zelensky before delivering a Wednesday evening speech in Vilnius about the Ukraine conflict.

The Lithuanian capital is about 20 miles from the border of Belarus, a close Russian ally that aided last year’s invasion of Ukraine.

Biden will travel to Helsinki, Finland, late Wednesday to celebrate that longtime neutral Russian neighbor’s decision last year to join NATO.

NATO countries including the US have heavily financed and armed Ukraine’s resistance to the more than 16-month-old Russian invasion and Biden has gradually met many of Zelensky’s prior demands, such as agreeing last week to send cluster bombs to aid Kyiv’s flagging offensive, despite a human rights campaign to ban the weapons, which can maim or kill civilians for decades after conflicts end.

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