US President Joe Biden and Ukrainian leader Vladimir Zelensky are set to hold a one-on-one meeting during this week’s NATO summit in Lithuania. The meeting is intended to demonstrate unity between the two leaders, amidst disagreements over NATO’s proposed security commitments to Ukraine.
According to an unnamed White House official cited by multiple US media outlets, the meeting will take place on Wednesday in Vilnius, where the NATO gathering is being held. CNN described the meeting as a “sign of unity,” highlighting the uncertainty surrounding Zelensky’s attendance at the summit.
Earlier reports suggested that Zelensky might not attend the summit due to a lack of clarity from NATO members regarding their commitments to support Ukraine in its conflict with Russia. Zelensky’s office has not confirmed his attendance, stating that it would be pointless for him to attend without a clear roadmap for Ukraine’s accession to the US-led military bloc.
In a recent interview with ABC News, Zelensky emphasized the importance of clear security guarantees for Ukraine, stating that the meeting with Biden would only be meaningful under such conditions. He expressed the need to send a message that NATO is not afraid of Russia.
While Zelensky acknowledged that Ukraine cannot join NATO while the conflict with Russia is ongoing, there are differing views among the alliance’s members regarding concrete pledges for future accession. The US has proposed offering “Israel-style” security guarantees to Ukraine instead of full membership.
During the meeting in Vilnius, Biden is expected to discuss US security guarantees with Zelensky, according to White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan. Biden stated in a CNN interview that Ukraine will not be ready for NATO membership until the conflict with Russia ends. Even beyond that point, Ukraine will still need to undertake reforms before joining the alliance.
The meeting between Biden and Zelensky comes at a crucial time as tensions between Ukraine and Russia continue to escalate. The recent buildup of Russian troops near Ukraine’s border has raised concerns among NATO allies, prompting discussions about the alliance’s response and support for Ukraine.
In conclusion, the meeting between Biden and Zelensky during the NATO summit in Vilnius is seen as a symbol of unity between the US and Ukraine. It aims to address concerns regarding NATO’s security commitments to Ukraine and to send a message of solidarity in the face of Russian aggression. The outcome of the meeting and the resulting agreements will have significant implications for the security and stability of the region.