By Oleksandr Kozhukhar
KYIV (Reuters) -President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on the eve of the NATO summit that Ukraine will be part of the alliance and expects from the meeting an “algorithm” for Kyiv to officially join it.
“We are still working on the wording, that is, on the specific words of such confirmation, but we already understand the fact that Ukraine will be in the alliance,” Zelenskiy said late on Monday in his nightly video address.
“And we are working to make the algorithm for gaining membership as clear and fast as possible.”
European diplomats said Ukraine’s largest Western allies are still finalising a joint framework that would pave the way for long-term security assurances for Kyiv, and may wait until the end of a NATO summit this week to announce them.
Negotiations among NATO members were ongoing over when and whether to issue a formal invitation, what conditions Ukraine would have to meet and how its progress should be tracked.
Zelenskiy said the Vilnius summit must confirm Ukraine is already ‘de facto’ a member of NATO as it has its weapons and shares values with the alliance.
“Even if different positions are voiced, it is still clear that Ukraine deserves to be in the alliance,” Zelenskiy said. “Not now – there is a war, but we need a clear signal. And we need this signal right now.”
U.S. President Joe Biden will meet with Zelenskiy one-on-one at the summit, a U.S. official told Reuters, although Zelenskiy is yet to officially confirm his participation in the 31-member alliance meeting in Lithuania on Tuesday.
On Monday evening, Zelenskiy said only that Ukraine will hold a number of bilateral talks on the summit’s sidelines on more weaponry deliveries to Kyiv, including with the U.S., European countries, Canada and Japan.
(Reporting by Oleksander Kozhukhar, Ron Popeski and Lidia Kelly; Writing by Ron Popeski and Lidia Kelly; Editing by Mark Porter, Stephen Coates and Lincoln Feast.)
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