Biden appears to rule out NATO membership for Ukraine, at least until after war ends

 July 11, 2023

President Joe Biden seemingly ended discussion on the prospects of Ukraine being granted near-immediate membership in the NATO military alliance, Fox News reported.

The embattled Eastern European nation, still fending off a Russian invasion, has been heavily lobbying for membership in the alliance since before the invasion began last year but has increased the intensity of its demands for inclusion in recent months.

Yet, even as Biden appeared to rule out NATO membership for Ukraine in the immediate future, effectively stalling the conversation until at least after hostilities have ended, he also made it quite clear that he will continue to use U.S. taxpayer money and resources to help support Ukraine's defense against Russia.

Biden says 'No' to Ukraine NATO membership -- at least for now

In a recent interview with CNN's Fareed Zakaria, President Biden suggested that Ukraine's war with Russia would need to end as well as that Ukraine would need to address some internal issues before there could be any serious consideration of its bid to become a member nation of NATO.

"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," Biden said.

"For example, if you did that, then, you know -- and I mean what I say -- we’re determined to commit every inch of territory that is NATO territory," he continued. "It’s a commitment that we’ve all made no matter what. If the war is going on, then we’re all in war. We’re at war with Russia, if that were the case."

"I think we have to lay out a rational path for Ukraine to be able to qualify to be able to get into NATO," the president added. "But I think it’s premature to say, to call for a vote, you know, in now, because there’s other qualifications that need to be met, including democratization and some of those issues."

Biden told Zakaria that he has previously spoken with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky about the issue and has vowed to continue supporting Ukrainian defense efforts against Russia with funding and weaponry -- courtesy of U.S. taxpayers.

Serious questions linger about pros and cons of Ukraine NATO membership

Both Fox News and CNN reported that President Biden will soon head to Vilnius, Lithuania for a major NATO summit, and according to a report from Politico, Ukraine's request for membership -- or at least a clearly defined path to rapid inclusion -- will be a hotly debated topic of discussion.

Ukraine has all but demanded that it be immediately accepted as a member of NATO, at least once the ongoing hostilities have ended, and has argued that a guarantee of imminent future membership would aid the war effort by convincing Russia that it had no chance of fully bringing Ukraine back within its sphere of influence and control.

Yet, while some member nations appear to be at least tentatively on board with such a move, others disagree and worry that doing so could actually backfire and prolong the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, if not even provoke Russia into further escalating the fighting or expanding it beyond Ukraine's borders against that nation's prospective NATO allies.

The question remains, furthermore, of what actually would constitute an "end" to the current conflict, not to mention the longstanding concerns about rampant governmental corruption in Ukraine, to say nothing of recent undemocratic moves by Zelensky to silence criticism and political opponents, that would otherwise be viewed as completely unacceptable for a NATO member nation.

Biden continues to ramp up support for Ukraine

Setting aside the issue of NATO membership for Ukraine, President Biden made it clear that he will continue to support Ukraine's fight against Russia, and Fox News noted that such support thus far has included roughly $100 billion dollars, the provision of tens of thousands of artillery shells from U.S. stockpiles, missile defense systems, armored vehicles and tanks, and potentially even highly advanced F-16 fighter jets, among other things.

Those other things, quite controversially, now also include the provision of cluster munitions, per CNN, which are banned by more than 100 nations around the globe, including several major NATO allies, as being too dangerous to civilian populations due to the widespread and indiscriminate nature of the weapon -- it blankets a broad area with dozens or hundreds of smaller bomblets -- and the grave risks posed, particularly to children, of unexploded ordinance that are found months or even years after fighting has ceased.

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