Ukraine’s NATO future is again up in the air. At last week’s NATO summit in Vilnius, the allies essentially reaffirmed the “commitment” made to Kyiv at the Bucharest Summit in 2008: that Ukraine will become a NATO member—someday. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was apparently not pleased with the noncommittal nature of the Vilnius Summit’s final communique, even as he acknowledged that immediate NATO membership is not viable.
To be clear, the NATO allies are set to continue their diplomatic, financial and military support to Ukraine in its war effort against Russia. Such aid is especially vital for Kyiv to press forward with its current counteroffensive against entrenched Russian positions in eastern Ukraine. Indeed, the amount of military aid flowing to Ukraine over the past year from Washington makes Ukraine the largest recipient of U.S. military aid, supplanting a key U.S. ally in another region: Israel.
That Ukraine is overtaking Israel in U.S. military aid is both notable and ironic, both in what it says about Washington’s current commitment to the country and, perhaps more importantly, what it suggests about the future of that commitment: With NATO membership off the table in the immediate term, some are calling for an alternative security mechanism for Ukraine dubbed the “Israel Model.” U.S. President Joe Biden himself made the comparison, stating that Washington would provide Kyiv with the kind of security it provides Israel so that it has the weapons and capacity to defend itself after the war ends.