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At the NATO summit in Vilnius in July 2023, President Zelenskyy sought firmer guarantees on Ukraine’s future membership of the alliance. Beyond the vague commitment set out at the Bucharest summit in 2008 that Ukraine would become a member of NATO, President Zelenskyy instead wanted a clear timeframe for accession and security guarantees from its member states.

Membership when conditions are met

In a Summit Communiqué, NATO leaders said that “Ukraine’s future is in NATO” but that the alliance would be “in a position to extend an invitation to Ukraine to join the Alliance when Allies agree and conditions are met”.

Package of political support 

Instead, allies agreed a “substantial package of expanded political and practical support” to bring Ukraine closer to NATO, including exemption from NATO’s Membership Action Plan process, the creation of a NATO-Ukraine Council and a multi-year programme of security assistance.

G7 joint declaration on security guarantees 

Long-term security guarantees were offered outside of the NATO framework by the G7 member states. They will be taken forward in bilateral security agreements, according to the legal and constitutional requirements of each country. Thirty countries have signed the Joint Declaration on security guarantees (PDF), to date. 

While welcoming those security commitments, President Zelenskyy made clear that they could not be a substitute for Ukraine’s eventual membership of NATO.

The UK was the first country conclude a bilateral security agreement with Ukraine on 12 January 2024. Germany and France followed suit on 16 February 2024. 

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