LONDON – The UK would “very much support” accelerated NATO membership for Ukraine, Britain’s foreign secretary has said.
Speaking at a news conference at the Ukraine Recovery Conference in London, James Cleverly said Britain would support proposals to allow Kiev to bypass the so-called Membership Action Plan (MAP) to join NATO.
The alliance launched MAP in 1999 to help aspiring countries meet NATO standards and prepare for future membership. During this phase, would-be members receive advice, assistance and practical support to carry out military and democratic reforms, but participation in the MAP does not guarantee that they will be accepted into NATO.
Leaving the MAP would ease Ukraine’s accession to the transatlantic alliance and act as a compromise between Eastern European allies, who want the war-torn country to become an immediate member, and other Western countries, who fear accepting Ukraine in NATO would worsen tensions with Russia and they believe Kiev still needs to address problems like corruption.
Cleverly told the conference on Wednesday that Ukraine has evolved “incredibly fast,” referring to recent comments by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, who said Kiev already meets “a lot of the requirements” of the membership action plan. .
“I think the UK position would be very, very supportive if we moved on from the membership action plan by acknowledging that the offer to both Sweden and Finland did not require that, and the Ukrainians have shown their commitment to reforming the army as a requirement of NATO. membership through their actions on the battlefield,” Cleverly said, adding: “I think all NATO allies recognize that.”
US President Joe Biden would also welcome the removal of a MAP for Ukraine’s NATO entry. according to two US officials. Biden discussed the idea with Stoltenberg in Washington DC last week.
A formal announcement of the removal of the MAP requirement will most likely take place at the July NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania.