Ukraine Sees Opportunity to Join NATO After Finland, Sweden Invite

A senior Ukrainian official said Wednesday that he sees the possibility of his country joining NATO after Sweden and Finland were formally invited to join the alliance this week.

Igor Zhovkva, deputy head of the office of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, reportedly made the comments to a correspondent from the Ukrainian online outlet European Truth. Zhovkva told the reporter Ukraine may get the opportunity to enter the alliance now that Sweden and Finland have been invited into NATO without going through the Membership Action Plan (MAP) process.

The Atlantic Council explained in a May article that NATO set up MAP as a way to lay out "the political, economic and military reforms needed to meet NATO standards" for applying members. "In most cases, the MAP process has lasted several years or more," the Atlantic Council noted. However, Sweden and Finland—which were spurred to join NATO by Russian President Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine—bypassed the process.

"We have taken note of this possibility," Zhovkva said of the quick process for Sweden and Finland, which both applied to NATO in mid-May and were invited to join on Wednesday, according to European Truth.

Zhovkva, who European Truth reported was the head of the Ukrainian delegation to the current NATO summit in Madrid, also reportedly told the outlet he believes Ukraine already meets the criteria to join the organization.

"Today, during the war, it is difficult to say that Ukraine does not meet NATO standards—whether in terms of strategy or tactics of military action," Zhovkva said, according to European Truth. "And we prove every day that we are compatible with NATO standards."

Igor Zhovkva speaks during a press conference
Igor Zhovkva, deputy head of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's office, said Wednesday his country could get an opportunity to join NATO after Finland and Sweden were invited to join the alliance. Above, Zhovkva speaks during a press conference in Lisbon, Portugal, on June 1. Photo by Horacio Villalobos#Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images

But in an interview with Bloomberg published Tuesday, Zhovkva struck a different tone. He said Ukraine is not a NATO member because the alliance does not want his country to join.

Zhovkva also reportedly told Bloomberg that NATO has not given Ukraine enough weapons and other means of support for its resistance to Russia's invasion. He said Kyiv did not receive an answer from NATO when it asked for weapons before the war started in late February. Zhovkva told Bloomberg that NATO was also unresponsive to Ukraine's requests for a no-fly zone after the invasion began.

When NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg was asked by a reporter during a Wednesday press conference if Ukraine could join the alliance without MAP, as Sweden and Finland had done, he answered, "We have demonstrated today that NATO's door remains open."

Newsweek reached out to NATO for comment.