NATO foreign ministers will try to bridge divisions over Ukraine’s membership bid at a meeting in Oslo this week, with the allies at odds over calls to give Kiev a roadmap to membership at the summit in July.
NATO has not acceded to Ukraine’s request for fast-track membership as Western governments such as the US and Germany wary of moves they fear could push the alliance closer to entering an active war with Russia, according to Reuters.
The agenda of the NATO Foreign Ministers meeting in Oslo
However, both Kiev and some of its closest allies in Eastern Europe have pressed for NATO to at least take concrete steps to bring Ukraine closer to membership at the alliance’s summit in Vilnius, Lithuania. from July 11-12.
“It would be very sad if, in any way, someone could read the outcome of the Vilnius summit as a victory for Russia in terms of excluding Ukraine from joining NATO one day,” Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte said on Friday .
Last week, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg stated that Ukraine will not be able to join the alliance as long as the war against Russia continues.
“Becoming a member in the middle of a war is not on the agenda. The problem is what will happen when the war ends,” he said.
At the 2008 NATO summit in Bucharest, it was agreed that Ukraine would eventually join.
Since then, leaders have balked at measures such as granting Kiev an accession action plan that would set a timetable for the country’s move closer to NATO.
On the sidelines of the meeting in Oslo on Wednesday and Thursday, foreign ministers are also expected to address the search for a new NATO chief, with Stoltenberg set to step down in September.
Meanwhile, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s election victory has given new impetus to efforts to break the impasse over the ratification of Sweden’s NATO membership, blocked by objections from Turkey and Hungary.
Any progress in Oslo is unlikely because Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu will not be present, Sweden said, although talks between him and Sweden’s Tobias Billstrom will still take place “soon”.