Biden Says US Won’t ‘Make It Easy’ For Ukraine To Join NATO


U.S. President Joe Biden said Saturday his administration would not “make it easy” for Ukraine to join NATO, noting the war-ravaged nation must meet the same standards as other member states.

According to NATO’s Membership Action Plan, candidate nations must make military and democratic reforms before they are considered for NATO membership.

Last week, Biden officials said the president “was open to” waiving the requirement for Ukraine, which this week launched a counterattack amid Russia’s war of aggression.

Biden noted the U.S. has “done a lot” to make sure Ukraine has the “ability to coordinate militarily,” Politico reports.

But when he was asked Saturday whether Ukraine’s path to joining the transatlantic alliance would be eased, he said no. “Because they’ve got to meet the same standards. So, we’re not going to make it easy.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin warned Friday there is a “serious danger” the NATO military alliance could be pulled further into Russia’s war on Ukraine. He made those comments during a plenary session of Russia’s flagship St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, where he promoted Russia’s economy despite heavy international sanctions imposed because of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Western journalists were banned from the event.

African delegation 

Putin welcomed a delegation of African leaders seeking to mediate a peace between Ukraine and Russia. The delegation met with Putin in St. Petersburg on Saturday after departing Kyiv.

The leaders from Senegal, Egypt, Zambia, Uganda, Congo and the Comoro islands as well as South Africa told Putin it was time to negotiate an end to fighting, which they said was harming the entire world.

The Kremlin downplayed any chances of meaningful talks with Kyiv, saying any peace settlement must take into account “new realities,” but it said it is ready to listen.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told the African leaders Friday he could not understand what could be gained from the delegation’s meeting with Putin.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said in Kyiv the leaders had come “to share the African perspective” and saw talks with Russia as part of the mission.

However, Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukraine’s Presidential Office, told the Independent Ukrainian news agency Unian on Saturday that the African leaders’ peace delegation was mostly interested in suspending Putin’s arrest warrant by the International Criminal Court.

On March 17, the ICC, issued arrest warrants for Putin and Maria Lvova-Belova, the Russian official allegedly overseeing the forced deportations of Ukrainian children to Russia. This means that Putin and Lvova-Belova can now be arrested in countries that have ratified the Rome Stature

Podolyak added that the real plan to end the war was Ukraine’s 10-point peace plan, which Zelenskyy introduced at a G-20 summit meeting in November 2022.

The peace plan includes the immediate withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukrainian territory, the establishment of a Russian war crimes tribunal, the release of all prisoners and forcibly relocated people, and the prevention of ecocide.

Nuclear weapons

Putin confirmed that Russia’s deployment of tactical nuclear weapons to Belarus has begun, reminding the West that it could not inflict a strategic defeat on Russia.

“The first nuclear warheads were delivered to the territory of Belarus. But only the first ones, the first part. But we will do this job completely by the end of the summer or by the end of the year,” he said.

Speaking Friday at Russia’s economic forum in St. Petersburg, Putin emphasized that he saw no need for Russia to resort to nuclear weapons, for now. He said delivering shorter-range nuclear weapons to Belarus, which could be used on the battlefield, was intended as a warning to the West about arming and supporting Ukraine.

The White House denounced Putin’s comments and said the U.S. had made no adjustments to its nuclear position in response to the rhetoric.

U.S. humanitarian assistance 

The United States on Friday announced additional humanitarian assistance of $205 million for Ukraine that will provide critical support such as food, safe water, accessible shelter and more for Ukraine.

“The U.S. response is advancing Ukraine’s overall security, economic recovery, energy security and capacity to cope with the humanitarian crisis created by Russia’s war. We welcome the contributions of other donors toward this crisis response and urge yet more donors to generously support the serious humanitarian needs in Ukraine and the region,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said.

The U.S. aid package brings the total humanitarian assistance for Ukraine to more than $605 million during fiscal year 2023. Since February 2022, the United States has provided more than $2.1 billion in humanitarian assistance for Ukraine.


The VOA is the Voice of America

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