President Joe Biden on Monday said Ukraine must clean up corruption and meet other criteria if it wanted to join NATO.
Ukraine’s president has said he is worried this week’s U.S.-Russia summit will leave his country in an uncertain position and has been pushing for clear backing on its push for NATO membership.
After meeting allies in Brussels, Biden signaled he was open to the idea and that Russia’s annexation of Crimea did not mean Kyiv would be barred.
But he said the country still had work to do.
‘The fact is they still have to clean up corruption,’ Biden said after a NATO summit.
‘The fact is they have to meet other criteria to get into the action plan.
‘And so school’s out on that question. It remains to be seen.’
President Biden said, ‘School’s out,’ when asked whether Ukraine was joining NATO. He said the country had to meet several criteria, including tackling corruption, in order to being the joining process
The question of Ukraine is certain to come up when Biden meets President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday in Geneva, Switzerland, on Wednesday. Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula of Ukraine in 2014
In this April 22, 2021, file photo provided by Russian Defense Ministry Press Service, Russian military vehicles prepare to be loaded into a plane for airborne drills during maneuvers in Crimea.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky wants NATO members to accelerate his country’s entry into the alliance following a tense standoff with Russia this year that saw Moscow mass troops and military hardware near its borders.
In an interview with Reuters, the Associated Press and Agence France-Press he said most of the troops had yet to withdraw.
‘Every day we prove that we are ready to be in the alliance more than most of the countries of the European Union,’ he said.
Before Biden spoke, Zelensky triggered speculation that Ukraine had already been given the green light.
‘NATO leaders confirmed that [Ukraine] will become a member of the Alliance & the [Membership Action Plan] is an integral part of the membership process,’ he wrote on Twitter.
In its joint communique, NATO members reaffirmed their decision made in 2008 about Ukraine’s process for becoming a member.
‘The success of wide-ranging, sustainable, and irreversible reforms, including combating corruption, promoting an inclusive political process, and decentralisation reform, based on democratic values, respect for human rights, minorities, and the rule of law, will be crucial in laying the groundwork for a prosperous and peaceful Ukraine,’ it said.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has been pushing for a clear timetable for Ukraine to get a Membership Action Plan and a path to joining NATO
On Monday, Zelenskiy seemed to suggest that NATO leaders had given the go-ahead for Ukraine to join the alliance. However, Biden said Kyiv still needed to tackle corruption and meet other criteria
This image released on Thursday, April 22, 2021 by the Russian Defense Ministry Press Service shows, Russian military vehicles move during drills in Crimea. Earlier this year, Russia bolstered its forces near Ukraine and warned Kyiv that it could intervene militarily if Ukrainian authorities try to retake the rebel-controlled east.
Biden is due to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday in Geneva, Switzerland.
The future of Ukraine is expected to be near the top of the agenda.
On Monday, Biden made clear that Ukraine had his support in standing firm against Russia.
‘In the meantime, we will do all that we can to put Ukraine in a position to be able to resist Russian physical aggression,’ he said.
‘And it will not just depend on me whether or not we conclude that Ukraine can become part of NATO, will depend on the alliance and how they vote.’
Earlier, Biden called Putin a ‘worthy adversary’ but declined to call him a ‘killer’ as he has done before.
He has been making a point of soliciting views of other world leaders on what he should say when he finally gets together with Putin.
‘They thanked me for being willing to talk with them about the meeting,’ Biden said, fielding a handful of questions after making reporters wait two hours for a delayed press conference.
He said there was a consensus that it was ‘appropriate’ for them to meet and rejected the notion that it constituted a reward for Putin to win a meeting so early in his presidency.
‘If he chooses not to cooperate and acts in a way that he has in the past,’ Biden said, ‘then we will respond. We will respond in kind.’
But he offered a caveat saying he was willing to cooperate where it was in their mutual interests to do so.
But he offered a caveat. ‘We should decide where it’s in our mutual interests and the interests of the world to cooperate,’ he said.