Draft NATO communique describes Ukraine’s path to NATO as irreversible, sources say

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Ukraine’s path to joining NATO was described as “irreversible” in a draft text of the alliance’s joint communique, three sources familiar told CNN Monday.

How strong of a guarantee to provide to Ukraine about its future membership to NATO has been a key source of debate between the 32 members of the alliance ahead of this week’s summit in Washington, CNN previously reported. The draft could change before the final version, but the presence of the “irreversible” language would be a significant signal to Kyiv and Moscow as the war in Ukraine continues with little sign of an end.

One of the sources, a US official, said the White House supports the use of the word in the final communique as long as the document also reaffirms that Ukraine’s work on democratic reforms must continue. The official said the final version is expected to contain that language.

While many Europeans have emphasized the need for strong language around Ukraine’s eventual future in the alliance, US and German officials had proposed describing a “bridge” to NATO membership for Ukraine.

However, officials have also stressed the importance of “tangible measures,” in the words of a European diplomat, to support Kyiv’s ongoing fight against Russia. Ruslan Stefanchuk, the chair of Ukraine’s parliament, said at an event Monday that it’s not just about language, but it’s about actually bringing Ukraine closer to NATO.

A US senior administration official said Friday that the alliance will make “significant new announcements about how we’re increasing NATO’s military, political and financial support for Ukraine” as part of Kyiv’s “bridge to NATO.”

US officials on Monday publicly declined to discuss specifics of the joint communique ahead of the summit, which kicks off on Tuesday.

“There is rightly considerable focus on what Allies will say about Ukraine’s membership path in the summit declaration. The language will be clear and forceful. It will recognize Ukraine’s vital ongoing reform efforts and demonstrate Allied support for Ukraine on its path to NATO membership,” Michael Carpenter, the senior advisor for Europe at the National Security Council, said at a briefing Monday.

The senior administration official said Friday that what they “described in terms of the bridge to membership and the deliverables that NATO will be unveiling for Ukraine is quite substantial.”

“We’re not talking about some sort of plan for how they’re going to get from here to there. We’re talking about standing up an entire command at Wiesbaden, and we’ll look at how we do these various pieces that I mentioned earlier – training, coordination, equipping, coordination, logistics, force development. This is a very serious effort to get Ukraine in a position, as I said earlier, where it will be ready to assume its roles and responsibilities within the alliance on day one,” the official said.

“I’ll let the Ukrainians speak for themselves, but I think they understand the value of what NATO will be doing for that,” they said.

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