Ukrainian officials have been forced to amend their record of a call between the country’s president and his US counterpart, Joe Biden, in which they claimed the White House had offered Kiev a major step towards NATO membership.
The transcript, detailing the conversation with Biden, was published by Volodymyr Zelensky’s administration shortly after the call was held on Monday. It contained an explosive claim that the American president had “highlighted… the importance of providing the Ukrainian state with a NATO Membership Action Plan,” which would be a significant milestone in the country’s stated ambitions to join the US-led bloc.
However, a spokesman for the National Security Council in Washington later told Virginia-based news site Axios that “the Ukrainians mischaracterized the statement,” and that it had been changed. The statement published on Kiev’s official website now reads that it was, in fact, Zelensky himself who “noted the importance of providing the Ukrainian state with an action plan for membership in the Alliance.”
In an interview with Axios published the same day, Zelensky railed at what he said were persistent delays in his country’s accession to the bloc. He said that “very wrong things are happening” but that he still holds faith Kiev will be admitted to the NATO. “I have to point out that many Ukrainians increasingly don’t believe this as strongly as they used to,” he added, given the hurdles facing its application.
“I think that if we are welcome in NATO, if they really want to see us as a member, then it’s no use looking into the binoculars, into some distant future, and discussing this future. The issue should be resolved immediately. We are in danger right now, our independence is at stake right now, and it is now that we need help,” he argued.
Earlier this year, Ulrike Demmer, the German government’s deputy spokesperson, said that while “NATO generally follows an open-door policy” when it comes to Ukraine “no further steps toward its membership are currently envisaged.”
Russia has long indicated that it regards Ukraine’s membership of the bloc as a diplomatic red line, given that it would open the door for American troops to be stationed effectively along much more of the country’s European borders.
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