Ukraine says NATO summit results good, not ideal after membership rebuff
PHOTO CAPTION: G7 leaders and Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy are seen during the announcement of a Joint Declaration of Support to Ukraine, as the NATO summit is held in Vilnius, Lithuania July 12, 2023. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel
VILNIUS (Reuters) - Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Wednesday the results of a NATO summit were good, but would have been ideal if Kyiv had received an invitation to join the Western military alliance.
Zelenskiy said NATO's recognition that Ukraine did not need to follow a Membership Action Plan (MAP) was important, adding that the former Soviet state had advanced considerably in its compatibility with the alliance.
"The important result here is the recognition that Ukraine does not need an action plan for membership on this path (to NATO)," Zelenskiy told a joint news conference with NATO General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg during a NATO summit in Vilnius.
Zelenskiy said Ukrainian soldiers had gained experience in cooperating with various alliance member states.
Thousands of Ukrainian troops have been trained by Kyiv's Western partners. Ukraine is also heavily dependent on Western weapons supplies as it fights Russian forces who began a full-scale invasion in February 2022.
NATO said on Tuesday Ukraine would be welcome in the alliance but stopped short of naming a date or setting exact conditions.
It also dropped the requirement for Kyiv to fulfil a MAP, a list of political, economic and military goals that other east European nations had to meet before joining the alliance. This in effect removed a hurdle on Ukraine's way into NATO.
Zelenskiy said that he had received positive news on new defence packages while in Vilnius, where he met the leaders of Britain, Germany, France, Australia and the Netherlands.
"We can state that the results of the summit are good, but if there was an invitation, they would be ideal,” he said.
(Reporting by Olena Harmash and Anna Pruchnicka, Editing by Timothy Heritage)