Biden backs Ukraine's NATO membership, but says war must first end

Biden backs Ukraine's NATO membership, but says war must first end

'It's about when they can join, and they will join NATO,' says US president

By Michael Hernandez

WASHINGTON (AA) - US President Joe Biden endorsed Ukraine's entry into NATO on Thursday, but maintained it must happen after Russia's war on its eastern European neighbor concludes.

The US president continued to emphasize that Ukraine's entry into the 31-member transatlantic alliance while the war is ongoing would automatically trigger NATO's mutual defense article, which would create what he called a "third world war." But he maintained Ukraine's ascension is a matter of when, not if.

"It's about when they can join, and they will join NATO," Biden said in Finland where he spoke alongside President Sauli Niinisto during a joint press conference.

Biden pointed to a joint communique issued by the G-7 group of nations -- Canada, Germany, France, Italy, Japan, the UK and the US -- as a stopgap measure that allows any nation to negotiate bilateral security agreements with Kyiv "until they're officially members of NATO."

Asked if his position will serve to embolden Russian President Vladimir Putin to maintain the offensive to ensure Kyiv does not join the alliance, Biden said "Putin has already lost the war."

"How does he move from here? What does he do?" he asked rhetorically. "He could end more tomorrow, he could just say 'I'm out,' but what agreement is ultimately reached depends upon Putin, and what he decides to do, but there is no possibility of him winning the war in Ukraine," he said.

After departing NATO's two-day summit in Lithuania on Wednesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy issued a video message on Telegram lauding security commitments made during the leader-level meeting, and hailing the G-7's action on bilateral security agreements.

“Never before have we had such a security foundation, and this is the level of the G-7. On this foundation, we will build a new, legally binding architecture of bilateral security treaties with the most powerful countries,” Zelenskyy said.

He further said that they have eliminated “any doubts or ambiguities” concerning whether Ukraine will be in NATO, stating not only do all NATO countries agree on this, but that the significant majority of the Western military alliance is pushing for it.

“Never before have the words ‘you are equal among equals’ for Ukraine from other NATO members sounded truly meaningful. Now everyone understands that this is a fact. Equal among equals. And we will definitely reaffirm this fact with our victory. And with our accession to NATO,” Zelenskyy said.

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