VILNIUS —British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said that “Ukraine’s rightful place is in NATO,” urging a reaffirmation of the commitment to Ukraine’s membership at the ongoing NATO Summit.

However, President Joe Biden emphasized that Ukraine’s ongoing conflict with Russia would impede its swift accession to the alliance, dashing hopes for an immediate integration, despite the fervent desires of the United Kingdom and Lithuania, the host of the summit.

In response, the Kremlin expressed concerns over the potential risks posed to European security by Ukraine’s potential inclusion in NATO. The Russian government announced its keen vigilance during the two-day NATO summit, highlighting its intention to thoroughly scrutinize the statements made by Western leaders and take necessary measures to safeguard Russia’s security interests.

During a press briefing on Tuesday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov discussed the matter with reporters, stating, “We will conduct a deep analysis of the statements made by Western leaders during the summit. It is imperative for us to protect our own security in light of any decisions that may arise.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy asserted last night that Kyiv was already functioning as a de facto member of the NATO alliance, emphasizing Ukraine’s crucial role in defending NATO’s eastern flank. Zelenskyy’s remarks come as he prepares to personally participate in the two-day conference, aiming to garner support for Ukraine’s formal membership in the organization.

In a statement reflecting his evident disappointment, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy criticized the lack of a specified time frame for both the invitation and membership of Ukraine in NATO, deeming it “unprecedented and absurd.”

Zelenskyy expressed his discontent with the inclusion of vague language regarding “conditions” for inviting Ukraine, suggesting a lack of readiness among NATO members to extend an invitation or grant membership to Ukraine.

“It seems there is no readiness neither to invite Ukraine to NATO nor to make it a member of the Alliance,” Zelenskyy remarked, conveying his frustration with the perceived absence of support for Ukraine’s aspirations for NATO membership at the summit.

While NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg conveyed a “positive message” to Ukraine regarding its potential membership, the divergent perspectives among the alliance’s 31 member countries make it unlikely that a specific date or a straightforward invitation for Ukraine’s NATO membership will be issued at this time.

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