Last week at the NATO summit in Lithuania, the world watched as Ukraine was denied an actionable plan for membership in the alliance. It was almost a rinse and repeat from 2008, when Ukraine and Georgia pushed for membership, and were offered a similarly passive statement – save for one major exception: today, Ukraine is actively fighting for its life. In fact, Ukraine is doing NATO’s job for it: defending Europe, upholding sovereignty, and keeping Russia’s imperialist ambitions at bay. And, notwithstanding the ire of National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan – who has labeled Ukraine ungrateful — nobody (much less Zelensky) is arguing for membership during a hot war. Ukrainians want a secure plan forward, not a vague and gauzy set of commitments that amount to “maybe.” A roadmap is not actually hard to formulate (Marc and former Deputy Secretary of State Steve Biegun wrote one for Washington Post) so what is the hold-up? Are we really going to let Putin bully 31 (soon to be 32) countries into icing out a staunch ally?
Ambassador Kurt Volker is the former U.S. Ambassador to NATO, the former U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine. He’s now a distinguished fellow at the Center for European Policy Analysis and a founding partner of the American University in Kyiv.