Smiling Nato leaders begin crunch summit after absent Zelenskyy blasts allies for 'absurd' membership timeframe

11 July 2023, 12:40 | Updated: 11 July 2023, 15:43

Nato leaders begin crunch summit without Ukrainian leader Vlodymyr Zelenskyy
Nato leaders begin crunch summit without Ukrainian leader Vlodymyr Zelenskyy. Picture: Alamy/Social media

By Asher McShane

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy hit out at NATO when he blasted allies for failing to set a firm timeline for his country to join the alliance.

His outburst came hours after NATO announced a breakthrough that would allow it to admit Sweden as its 32nd member, the second new arrival since Russia began its invasion of its neighbour last year.

Mr Zelenskyy said not having a timeframe for Ukraine to join the alliance is both “unprecedented and absurd.”

He said: “It’s unprecedented and absurd when timeframe is not set neither for the invitation nor for Ukraine's membership.”

He added on Twitter: "It seems there is no readiness neither to invite Ukraine to Nato nor to make it a member of the alliance."

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy places flowers on Snake Island commemorating the 500th day of the Russian invasion
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy places flowers on Snake Island commemorating the 500th day of the Russian invasion. Picture: Alamy

Shelagh Fogarty offers her opinion on whether Ukraine should be able to join NATO

Nato agreed in 2008 that Ukraine will become a member but did not say how and when it would happen.

Rishi Sunak vowed that Britain is “in it for the long haul.”

Flying out to the summit, Mr Sunak said: “We are with Ukraine for as long as it takes.”

He told reporters: “What Putin needs to understand is there is no point in waiting out the West, and not just the West but the alliance that has formed to support Ukraine. Everyone is in it for the long haul and any thought he had that this would be over quickly has already been proved to be false.”

Nato secretary general Jens Stoltenberg promised at the start of the summit that Ukraine would get a “positive and strong message” on its path to membership of the alliance, as well as more military aid.

Zelenskyy and his team have been pressing NATO for a clear path for Ukraine to join once the war is over.

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He said lingering uncertainty over Ukraine's NATO membership would mean "a window of opportunity is being left to bargain (over) Ukraine's membership in NATO in negotiations with Russia.

"And for Russia, this means motivation to continue its terror," he said.

Indicating that he would attend the summit, he said: "Uncertainty is weakness. And I will openly discuss this at the summit."

Moscow has said it was following the NATO summit closely and that it would take "measures to protect Russia's own security.”

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