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US Reportedly Accuses Ukraine of ‘Mischaracterising’ Biden’s Words on NATO in Zelenskiy Phone Call

© Sputnik / Mikhail Markiv / Go to the mediabankNational flag of Ukraine and the NATO flag
National flag of Ukraine and the NATO flag - Sputnik International, 1920, 08.06.2021
President Joe Biden and his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskiy spoke by phone on Monday, reportedly discussing issues ranging from anti-corruption reforms to energy security. Biden invited Zelenskiy to visit Washington in July to discuss the results of the US President’s upcoming 16 June summit meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The Ukrainian government has “corrected the record” and altered Kiev’s official statement on Monday’s telephone conversation between Joe Biden and Volodymyr Zelenskiy after initially “mischaracterising” Biden’s remarks, Axios reports, citing a US National Security council spokesperson.

The original statement, published on Monday evening, claimed that Biden “highlighted…the importance of providing the Ukrainian state with a NATO Membership Action Plan,” – or MAP, the mechanism by which current alliance members review the formal applications of aspiring members.

The statement was modified after the White House denied that the president had expressed support for a MAP for Ukraine, and now reads that it was Zelenskiy who “stressed the importance of providing the Ukrainian state with a NATO Membership Action Plan,” and that Biden only “assured that Ukraine’s position will be taken into account when discussing strategic issues in NATO.”

Ukrainian folk dancers perform for Ukrainian and US servicemen in a ceremony for joint-drill exercises between the two countries in Yavoriv polygon, Lviv district, western Ukraine on 20 July 2015 - Sputnik International, 1920, 07.06.2021
Ukraine’s Zelensky Urges NATO to ‘Immediately’ Accept Kiev Into Alliance
The White House declined to comment on whether President Biden would support providing Ukraine with a NATO MAP this year.

On Sunday, Zelenskiy urged the issue of Ukraine’s accession to NATO to be addressed “immediately”, and complained that many Ukrainians “don’t believe…as strongly as they used to” in the country’s prospects for joining the Western alliance amid a lack of action by current members on the matter.

NATO formally recognised Ukraine as an ‘enhanced opportunities partner’ in late 2020, and its members have been providing Kiev with weapons and training support since the 2014 pro-Western coup d’état and the civil war in the country’s east. Ukrainian authorities have been seeking to sign a MAP with the alliance since 2017, and have used various forms of diplomatic pressure – up to and including warnings that the country might pursue nuclear weapons if it is not accepted into the alliance, to speed up the process.

Under NATO rules, countries suffering from civil war or with territorial disputes with neighbours are not eligible to join the alliance. Membership also formally requires the functioning of a Western-style liberal democratic system and a market economy, and the fair treatment of minority populations. These rules have occasionally been bent, however, with Turkey and Greece admitted into the alliance in 1952 despite territorial disputes, and their rule by autocratic or military governments throughout much of the second part of the 20th century. The same applied to Portugal, which became a founding member of the alliance in 1949 despite being ruled by dictator Antonio de Oliveira Salazar.

Vice President-elect, Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., left, stands with his son Hunter during a re-enactment of the Senate oath ceremony, Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2009, in the Old Senate Chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington - Sputnik International, 1920, 10.10.2020
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Russia has expressed concerns about Ukraine’s NATO ambitions, and the regular training operations and arms deliveries that the country already receives from bloc members. The United States, the alliance’s leader, has repeatedly broken its promises to Moscow about NATO’s eastward expansion, and between 1999 and 2020 has swallowed up every former member of the Moscow-led Warsaw Pact, as well as the three Baltic republics of the former Soviet Union and four countries in the former Yugoslavia. Moscow has also questioned the alliance’s claims to being a bloc tasked with defending Europe’s security, pointing to its aggression in the former Yugoslavia and Libya, and its operations in far-off Afghanistan.

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