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Will Ukraine join Nato? Why some countries are blocking its membership bid ahead of Vilnius summit

Mr Zelensky has been clear on his wish to gain Nato support as swiftly as possible ahead of the Vilnius summit on Tuesday, but several Nato members are planning to block the move

Volodymyr Zelensky has renewed efforts to sway leaders to allow Ukraine to join Nato ahead of a major summit in Lithuania this week.

Ukraine is pushing to join Nato as quickly as possible, but some EU countries are cautious about the move, which they fear could draw the alliance closer into war with Russia.

“We are talking about a clear signal, some concrete things in the direction of an invitation,” Mr Zelensky told a news conference on Friday. “We need this motivation. We need honesty in our relations.”

“[To say that] the door is open is not enough.”

As the 31 member states prepare to meet at the Vilnius summit on Tuesday and Wednesday, there are expected to be clearer answers on how likely Ukraine will be to take a place in Nato.

Why does Ukraine want to join Nato?

Ukraine believes that joining Nato is its only realistic chance at defeating Russia, as it is likely to face ongoing hostility even if a peace deal is forged.

The leading principle behind Nato is its stance on “collective defense”, Article 5, which means that an attack on one of its member countries would constitute as war on all member nations.

Ukraine has had a partnership membership with Nato since 1992, which means it can be provided with assistance with national security, but it is not officially a member state.

In 2017, Ukraine adopted a constitutional amendment that committed the country to Nato membership, spurred by Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014.

Joining Nato would clearly provide international backing for Ukraine and might ward off Russian aggression and to pull away from its influence, and to build relationships with the US and the EU.

Why are some countries against Ukraine joining Nato?

Because of its guiding principle on conflict, Nato has always stood firm on the fact that it will not provide forces to non-member states.

Leaders are deeply concerned that the country’s membership would mean that Russia would see Nato as a direct threat and drag it into another world war.

Vladimir Putin has said that he could withdraw his forces from Ukraine if it backs out of its efforts to join the alliance, which is something Ukraine is unwilling to do.

How likely is Ukraine to join Nato?

Despite Mr Zelensky’s wish to join the organisation at the earliest point possible, it looks as though it would be a much slower process if it happens at all.

That’s partially because Nato membership would depend on all 31 countries agreeing unanimously that a country can join them.

Those wanting to join must complete the membership action plan, which will set out their political and security aims and can take decades.

While there’s a strong recognition of Ukraine’s eventual place in Nato, some members are worried that the discussion will simply allow Russia to drag out the war.

What have other countries said about Ukraine’s membership to Nato?

On Sunday, President Joe Biden told CNN that he did not believe Ukraine was “ready” for Nato membership. “Nato is a process that takes some time to meet all the qualifications – from democratisation to a whole range of other issues,” he said, adding that Nato needed to “lay out a rational path” for membership.

The US has also said that it would be unlikely to draw support from the public, who would not want to become involved in a war in Europe.

Mr Biden suggested the US could provide military aid similar to the support it has long provided to Israel.

Germany has also said that it is strongly against Ukraine’s inclusion in the alliance. “Berlin is stand-offish at the prospect of offering immediate membership,” a source told The Telegraph.

“It wants a process and time to develop guarantees to essentially block membership.”

“Berlin doesn’t want to see Vladimir Putin potentially test Article 5.” That doesn’t mean Ukraine might not ever join. Nato has recognised that Ukraine’s eventual membership is on the cards. Jens Stoltenberg, the Nato secretary-general, said that there would be “reaffirmation” of this eventual aim.

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