President Biden is scheduled to meet with King Charles III and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Monday ahead of a NATO summit in Lithuania and a visit to Finland. Rallying support for Ukraine will be the focus of his three-nation visit, apart from offering immediate membership in the security alliance.
In an interview with CNN, Biden said a NATO membership vote for Ukraine would be “premature” while the war with Russia is ongoing, and called for a “rational path” for Ukraine to join the camp. At the same time, Turkey and Hungary are blocking Sweden’s bid for NATO membership, underscoring divisions that are eroding the alliance’s deterrence amid a dangerous confrontation with Moscow.
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Analysis from our reporters
A fateful summit hangs over the NATO meeting in Vilnius 15 years ago: As NATO leaders gather this week in the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius, Ukrainian officials are demanding that their Western counterparts remember the legacy of the summit in Bucharest, writes Ishan Tharoor. During the 2008 NATO meeting in the Romanian capital, the former Soviet republics of Georgia and Ukraine were offered little more than a vague commitment to join the alliance at some point, with no plan as to how or when that might be achieved.
The half-hearted gesture reflected divisions within the West. On the one hand, President George W. Bush’s administration, deeply unpopular abroad after the devastating war in Iraq and entering its final year in office, sought to offer both countries a formal NATO “membership action plan.” On the other hand, a clutch of Western European governments, led by Germany, believed that neither Georgia nor Ukraine were politically ready to enter the alliance and were wary of the Kremlin’s “bear-poking” initiatives.