Turkish President Erdogan supports Ukraine’s NATO membership, urging peace efforts. Uncertainty remains over Ukraine’s timeline for membership, while Russia closely monitors developments.
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In a recent meeting between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Erdogan expressed his support for Ukraine’s desire to join NATO.
However, he also stressed the importance of resuming peace talks to end the conflict that has been ongoing for 500 days since Russia invaded Ukraine.
During a joint press conference in Istanbul, Erdogan stated that Ukraine no doubt deserves NATO membership and called for both sides to return to peace negotiations.
He emphasized the idea that fair peace is beneficial for everyone involved.
Zelenskyy thanked Erdogan for the support, especially before the upcoming NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania.
In a tweet, Zelenskyy thanked Erdogan for supporting Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, highlighting the importance of protecting their countries, people, and interests.
Intensive Efforts for NATO Membership
President Zelenskyy has been actively lobbying for Ukraine’s inclusion in the Western military alliance.
He argues that Ukraine is Europe’s last defense against Russian aggression. Zelenskyy recently visited the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Bulgaria as part of his efforts to gain support.
During his visit to Prague, Zelenskyy secured a pledge of support for Ukraine’s NATO membership, but with the condition that it happens after the war ends.
In Sofia, he gained backing for membership as soon as certain conditions allowed. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg also reiterated his belief that Ukraine will eventually become a NATO member.
Uncertain Timeline and US Position
Despite the support, the timeline for Ukraine’s NATO membership remains uncertain.
The United States dampened Ukraine’s hopes for immediate accession, stating that the upcoming summit would not result in a NATO membership invitation.
US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan explained that the Vilnius summit is an important step towards membership, but Ukraine still needs to take further actions before becoming a NATO member.
NATO countries, including Germany, have debated the conditions under which Ukraine can join, emphasizing the need for civilian and democratic control over the military.
Challenges and Russian Reaction
The specific offers Ukraine will receive at the summit in Lithuania’s capital still need to be determined.
Zelenskyy acknowledged that Ukraine is unlikely to join NATO while the ongoing conflict with Russia.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has previously threatened unspecified action if Ukraine joins NATO, adding to the situation’s complexity.
The Kremlin closely watched the talks between Zelenskyy and Erdogan, which has been attempting to break its international isolation by cultivating relations with Erdogan.
Erdogan has positioned himself as a neutral mediator between Kyiv and Moscow, boosting trade with Russia and providing Ukraine with drones and weapons to defend against Kremlin forces.
While Erdogan called for peace negotiations between the two sides, his unequivocal support for Ukraine’s NATO aspiration risks drawing ire from Putin.
Erdogan announced that Putin would visit Turkey next month to discuss possible prisoner swaps between Russia and Ukraine, a topic Erdogan has previously facilitated.
Erdogan also intends to push Putin to extend a deal that allows Ukraine to export grain through Black Sea ports, which is set to expire on July 17 unless Russia agrees to its renewal.