Nato summit: Allies refuse to give Ukraine timeframe on joining
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After President Volodymyr Zelensky criticized NATO’s “absurd” delay, NATO states have said Ukraine can join the military alliance “when allies agree and conditions are met.”

Nato stated in a communique it recognized the need to move faster but would not commit to a timeline.

According to Mr Zelensky, Ukraine would not be invited to Nato or become a member if there was no readiness.

Currently, he is in Vilnius, the Lithuanian capital, where the summit is taking place.

As long as Ukraine is at war with Russia, it cannot join Nato, but it wants to join as soon as possible after the war ends.

Mr Zelensky, in a tweet before Mr Stoltenberg’s comments, said the lack of an agreed timeframe could make his country’s eventual membership a bargaining chip.

In negotiations with Russia, Ukraine’s membership in Nato has a window of opportunity to be bargained. Uncertainty is weakness,” he said.

Ukraine might not have been informed when and how it may join NATO. Diplomats stressed that the onerous application process had been shortened and the path to membership had been clarified.

It recognized Ukraine’s army was more “interoperable” and more “politically integrated” with Nato forces, and it would continue to support reforms to Ukraine’s democracy and security.

As part of the new Nato-Ukraine Council, which met on Wednesday for the first time, Kyiv will have the right to summon meetings of the entire alliance.

It will be seen by Ukraine as a setback that there is no sense of timescale provided.

Although such details were unlikely, Mr Zelensky’s characterization of the absence of a timetable as absurd only emphasized his diplomatic failure.

Ukraine’s near-automatic membership could give Russia an incentive to escalate and prolong the war, some member states fear.

Ukraine’s focus now shifts to what long-term security guarantees Nato members will provide in lieu of early membership.

Two Russian invasions have been deterred by Western security pledges in the past. Nato allies hope a third round will be robust and explicit enough to convince the Kremlin that further aggression would be costly.

In August, 11 nations will train Ukrainian pilots to fly US-made F-16 fighter jets at a training facility in Romania.

A major upgrade over Ukraine’s current Soviet-era planes has been granted by the US in May, giving its Western allies the go-ahead to supply Ukraine with advanced jets, including the long-awaited F-16.

Throughout the recent offensive to retake territory seized by Russia, Ukraine had repeatedly lobbied its Western allies to provide jets.

Nevertheless, experts say Ukrainian pilots will need some time to become proficient at flying and operating Western jets.

Russian news agencies reported that Russian defence minister Sergei Shoigu said Moscow would have to use “similar” weapons if the US supplied controversial cluster munitions to Ukraine.

In addition to releasing bomblets over a wide area, these weapons are also banned in more than 100 countries because of their impact on civilians.