You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Biden Administration Throws Cold Water on Ukraine Joining NATO

Newsweek 9/30/2022 Nick Reynolds
White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan talks to reporters during the daily news conference in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House on September 30, 2022 in Washington, DC. Sullivan faced questions about President Vladimir Putin's plan to annex four regions of Ukraine that held rigged referendums on joining Russia, a violation of international law and an escalation in his clash with the West. © Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan talks to reporters during the daily news conference in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House on September 30, 2022 in Washington, DC. Sullivan faced questions about President Vladimir Putin's plan to annex four regions of Ukraine that held rigged referendums on joining Russia, a violation of international law and an escalation in his clash with the West.

U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan says Ukrainian efforts to join NATO should be taken up "at a different time," throwing cold water on the country's desire to join the international alliance and potentially easing Russian tensions as President Vladimir Putin has begun accelerating rhetoric of potential nuclear war.

Ukraine formally applied to join NATO as a military partner on Friday, coinciding with Putin's announcement that Russia would be formally annexing four occupied regions within Ukraine's borders. If accepted, NATO-aligned forces would formally be drawn into the war, pitting forces in the West against the Russian military and, potentially, escalating the conflict.

NATO's Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said earlier Friday that while it supports Ukraine's right to pursue an alliance with NATO, all 30 allies need to reach a consensus on membership.

Putin, however, has previously expressed his country's willingness to use nuclear weapons if provoked, prompting concern that any military escalation—including the implementation of a no-fly zone, as was suggested at the start of the war—could lead to possible retribution by Russian forces.

Russian concerns over Ukraine's potential alliance with NATO were central in early conversations around the war.

Though President Joe Biden reportedly told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that the country's membership in the alliance was in its own hands prior to the conflict, Russia saw the expansion of NATO forces as a potential provocation. In recent months, the country has sought to forge its own alliances with countries like China to create a bulwark to the West while, simultaneously, pressuring the alliance not to interfere in its conflict with Ukraine, which has been ongoing in some form since February 2014.

UP NEXT
UP NEXT

Meanwhile, Finland and Sweden—the former of which borders Russia—have been inching closer to finalizing their bids to join the alliance in recent weeks. On Friday, Sweden announced it would be lifting a ban on exporting military equipment to Turkey after the country previously objected to its membership bid at the start of the year.

The United States and NATO have continued to support Ukraine in the war but, until this point, had been reluctant to encourage its membership. On Friday, Stoltenberg reaffirmed the alliance's support of Ukraine retaking the annexed territories, while the U.S. Congress has passed a government-funding bill that included more than $12 billion in aid for the Ukrainian government.

However, it still remains a question what it will take—nuclear strike included—to draw U.S. forces into the conflict.

"We have had the opportunity to communicate directly to Russia a range of consequences for the use of nuclear weapons and the kinds of actions the United States would take," Sullivan told reporters Friday. "I have also said before we are not going to telegraph these things publicly. All I can tell you is that the Russians understand where things stand on this issue, we understand where things stand on this issue, and I will leave it at that."

Biden, meanwhile, has drawn a red line at the borders of NATO countries.

"America's fully prepared with our NATO allies to defend every single inch of NATO territory. Every single inch," Biden said in Friday remarks in Washington, D.C. "So, Mr. Putin, don't misunderstand what I'm saying. Every inch."

Related Articles

Start your unlimited Newsweek trial

AdChoices
AdChoices
image beaconimage beaconimage beacon