Updated Jul 11, 2023, 7:49am EDT

What to know: Zelenskky hits out at NATO over membership delay as summit begins in Vilnius

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson and Turkish Defense Minister Yasar Guler attend a meeting, on the eve of a NATO summit, in Vilnius, Lithuania July 10, 2023. REUTERS/Yves Herman/Pool
REUTERS/Yves Herman

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The News

Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelenskyy said it was “unprecedented and absurd” not to have a timeframe for Kyiv’s entry into NATO as the defense alliance began its annual summit in Vilnius, Lithuania.

Ukraine’s future membership of the bloc has already dominated headlines with NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg earlier saying that leaders will send “a positive message on the path forward” for Kyiv’s admission.

We’ve collected analysis you should read on the membership debate, as well as Turkey’s snap decision on Monday to allow Sweden’s accession to the alliance after months of stonewalling.

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  • A difference of opinion on how to end Russia’s war in Ukraine is at the heart of how the two NATO factions view allowing Ukraine entry into the alliance. While the Eastern Europeans want to see a humiliating defeat of Russia, the U.S. and Germany are more cautious, concerned that fast-tracking Ukraine to NATO could prolong the hostilities, journalist Gideon Rachman wrote. Ultimately, the American view is likely to dominate. — The Financial Times
  • While NATO argues over the terms under which Ukraine could join, Ukrainian top brass themselves point out that they’re not expecting membership while a war rages inside the country’s borders. Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine’s foreign minister, wrote recently that they “are not seeking immediate membership. We will not drag NATO into this war,” adding that his country plans to defeat Russia on their own. In his view, however, NATO would be bolstered by Ukrainian presence when the time finally comes: “No other NATO member has our experience and skills, including how to react to and repel an invasion within hours,” he writes. — Foreign Policy
  • That Turkey’s decision to support Sweden’s bid for NATO membership came on the same day it made a last-minute demand for its own accession into the EU is a ‘blackmail’ attempt, said one analyst. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s “EU proposition should be taken by the US and its European allies as further proof that Turkey’s president is not a reliable ally within multilateral organizations,” foreign affairs columnist Bobby Ghosh wrote. Now that Ankara has shown how it might behave if it joins another “exclusive club,” he said, Erdogan’s demand might damage his country’s long-standing bid to join the EU. — Bloomberg
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Know More

On Monday, Turkey lifted its months-long veto over Sweden joining the alliance.

Under NATO rules, all members have to vote unanimously on the accession of new members, and Ankara, frustrated by Stockholm’s lack of action over groups it deems as terrorist organizations, had steadfastly refused to allow the country entry.

The agreement to allow Sweden into the bloc came hours after Erdogan suggested that Turkey should be granted entry into the EU before he would consider allowing Sweden to enter NATO.

In a tweet on Tuesday Zelenskyy said it was “unprecedented and absurd” not to have a timeframe for Ukraine’s membership to the bloc. “Uncertainty is weakness. And I will openly discuss this at the summit,” he wrote.