On balance Ukraine has come out of the Vilnius summit more integrated with NATO than it was before it. It has also been reassured that, once the invitation to accede is extended, it will not have to go through the lengthy process set by the Membership Action Plan (MAP), the conditionality-filled document that since 1999 has defined the conditions for aspirant members to join. The benefit of NATO’s refusal to define now the conditions for Ukraine’s accession is that the Allies can pick one amongst several options in the future. The downside is that the hard debate about the time and modality of Kyiv’s accession will have to be addressed in challenging circumstances: will Ukraine join right after the end of the war or at a point further in the future? Will it do so only if all or just part of the territory currently occupied by Russia is liberated?
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