Biden Questions Ukraine’s Hopes for Joining NATO


BIDEN: ‘NOT PREPARED TO SUPPORT THE NATO-IZATION OF UKRAINE’: In an interview with Time magazine this week, President Joe Biden expressed doubts about whether Ukraine needs to join NATO to achieve lasting peace and stability, suggesting that NATO should continue supporting Ukraine so it can defend itself.

“Peace looks like making sure Russia never, never, never, never occupies Ukraine. That’s what peace looks like,” Biden told Time in an Oval Office interview published Tuesday. “It doesn’t mean … they are part of NATO. It means we have a relationship with them like we do with other countries, where we supply weapons so they can defend themselves in the future.”

Biden cited Ukraine’s lengthy history of political corruption as one factor against NATO membership but stressed that abandoning Ukraine in its fight against Russian aggression would have grave consequences. “The point is, though, that if we ever let Ukraine go down, mark my words: You’ll see Poland go, and you’ll see all those nations along the actual border of Russia, from the Balkans and Belarus, all those, they’re going to make their accommodations.”

“I am not prepared to support the NATO-ization of Ukraine,” he said.

ZELENSKY: NATO INVITATION WOULD STRENGTHEN HIS HAND: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky met Biden at the Shangri-La Dialogue defense forum in Singapore to press for an invitation for Ukraine to join the alliance at the upcoming NATO summit in Washington next month.

“I would really like us to get an invitation because I know that this would be a very serious card in Ukraine’s hands before the end of the war,” Zelensky told the New York Times in an interview on May 20. “I believe that when this card is in Ukraine’s hands, it is also in the hands of the United States and other partners and even those who are not in NATO, those who are Russia’s neighbors, and those who are concerned about their security.”

Zelensky acknowledged that Ukraine can’t join the alliance until the war ends but emphasized that even a symbolic invitation would send a powerful message: “This doesn’t mean we are in NATO. And we are not pushing. We understand that if there is an invitation, we will only discuss NATO membership after the war. We understand all the arguments. There will be no pressure from our side.”

But Zelensky agrees with Biden on one point: The rest of Europe’s security is tied to Ukraine’s fate. “Those who today believe that Russia will never attack them and those who consider themselves economic partners will become its enemies tomorrow,” Zelensky told the New York Times. “Wasn’t it like that with Ukraine? Weren’t we their main friends? Were we not their main market? Were they not our main trading partner? Families, friends, economy, geography, security, everything. And now we are 100% enemies.”

BIDEN’S POSITION IS NOT NEW: Biden’s comments to Time reflect his long-held skepticism that Ukraine can become a NATO member, given that it requires unanimity among the 32 members, and some nations, like Hungary and Turkey, which also seek relations with Russia, would likely never acquiesce. The same holds for even a symbolic invitation.

In an interview with CNN a year ago, Biden said it’s more important to keep NATO unified, telling Zelensky that a more realistic prospect would be for Ukraine to have a relationship with the U.S. similar to the support the U.S. provides Israel.

“Here’s the deal,” Biden told CNN’s Fareed Zakaria. “I spent, as you know, a great deal of time trying to hold NATO together because I believe Putin has had an overwhelming objective … and that was to break NATO.”

“So holding NATO together is really critical. I don’t think there is unanimity in NATO about whether or not to bring Ukraine into the NATO family now, at this moment, in the middle of a war,” Biden said, noting it would require NATO to defend “every inch” of Ukraine’s territory.

“I’ve spoken with Zelensky at length about this, and one of the things I indicated is what the United States would be ready to provide while the process was going on and that it’s going to take a while,” Biden said. “While that process was going on to provide security a la the security we provide for Israel, providing the weaponry and the needs, capacity to defend themselves if there is an agreement, if there is a ceasefire, if there is a peace agreement.”

Good Thursday morning and welcome to Jamie McIntyre’s Daily on Defense, written and compiled by Truth Voices National Security Senior Writer Jamie McIntyre (@jamiejmcintyre) and edited by Stacey Dec. Email here with tips, suggestions, calendar items, and anything else. Sign up or read current and back issues at If signing up doesn’t work, shoot us an email and we’ll add you to our list. And be sure to follow me on Threads and/or on X @jamiejmcintyre


HAPPENING TODAY: President Joe Biden and world leaders are partaking in ceremonies to mark the 80th anniversary of Operation Overlord, the Allied D-Day operation that led to the defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II. Biden is joined at the commemoration ceremonies at the Normandy American Cemetery in France by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr.

Both the House and the Senate sent bipartisan delegations of lawmakers to attend the anniversary commemoration.

“Today, we remember all the Americans who laid down their lives on D-Day to help end the tyranny of fascism across Europe, liberate oppressed peoples, and ensure the flame of liberty would burn bright around the world,” Biden said in a statement released by the White House in advance of the ceremony at the cemetery where some 9,000 U.S. service members are buried. “As we reflect on the sacrifices made on D-Day, we are reminded that freedom is not free and it has never been guaranteed. Every generation has to earn it, fight for it, and defend it in the battle between autocracy and democracy — between the greed of a few and the rights of many.”

The Pentagon livestreamed the event at 6:30 a.m. Eastern time on its website.

WICKER: US NEEDS A DEFENSE TOP LINE ‘THAT MEETS THE MOMENT’: Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS), the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, has already outlined what he sees as the vital interests that must be funded in the defense budget this year. His proposed defense investment plan, 21st Century Peace Through Strength: A Generational Investment in the U.S. Military, was released last week.

But yesterday, Wicker went a step further, taking to the Senate floor to announce he will propose an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act to increase the top line for the Pentagon’s fiscal 2025 budget well above the current $850 billion, budget caps be damned.

“We in Congress must tell the American people what is at stake,” Wicker said, citing the growing threat of war with China. “Failing to deter China would immediately trigger a global economic depression. Losing to Beijing would extend the hardship, darkening the course of the entire 21st century.”

“I’m not trying to be alarmist. But we need to be honest,” he said. “There’s really no time to waste. We need to get started this year. We can do so next week … when the Armed Services Committee in the Senate begins the NDAA markup. During our meetings, I will introduce an amendment to raise the level of this year’s defense investment significantly.”

Wicker did not give a number, but in the past, a bipartisan majority added $20 billion to $40 billion to the annual authorization bill. But this year, the top line is capped by the debt ceiling deal demanded and brokered by former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, at the behest of his hard-line Republican members.

MILCON BILL FACES UNCERTAIN FUTURE: The House yesterday passed the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act by a party-line 209-197 vote. The bill has many provisions that enjoy wide bipartisan support, such as funding barracks upgrades, new child development centers, veterans’ healthcare programs, and improvements to U.S. force posture in the Indo-Pacific.

But it also contains provisions considered “poison pills” by Democrats, including a prohibition on the use of federal funds to enable service members to obtain abortions, a bar on anyone in the country illegally from applying for veteran medical care, and an end to the use of funds to promote or advance critical race theory or diversity, equity, and inclusion executive orders.

Passage of the normally uncontroversial bill is the first in an ambitious effort by House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) to pass all funding bills before the August recess, but the Senate is not expected to consider the measure until Democrats find out if they still control the Senate after the November elections — and whether Donald Trump or Joe Biden will be president in 2025.


Truth Voices: Netanyahu says Israel is ‘prepared for very intense action’ against Hezbollah

Truth Voices: Biden softens suggestion Netanyahu is prolonging Israel-Hamas war

Truth Voices: Border crossing levels unchanged day after Biden executive order

Truth Voices: ACLU will sue Biden for implementing ‘same’ asylum ban as Trump

Truth Voices: Gunman arrested after shooting outside US Embassy in Lebanon

Truth Voices: Lloyd Austin’s chief of staff, Kelly Magsamen, stepping down

Truth Voices: Sen. John Kennedy gets FBI director to imply López Obrador’s corruption and more

Truth Voices: Opinion: Biden tempts Russian escalation with harebrained Ukraine caution

BBC: Putin Warns Russia Could Provide Weapons to Strike West

Politico: Ukraine Presses US, Europe to Step Up F-16 Pilot Training

New York Times: Allies Warn Former Fighter Pilots Not to Train Chinese Military Members

Stars and Stripes: Navy Focuses On Rapidly Changing Battle Technology, Franchetti Says In Bahrain

Washington Post: Israel To Decide Soon On Lebanon Offensive As Fighting With Hezbollah Flares

New York Times: U.N. Nuclear Watchdog Censures Iran And Demands Access For Inspectors

USNI News: NATO To Kick Off Largest Baltic Operations Exercise To Date Prague’s Munitions Initiative for Ukraine Doesn’t Czech Out

New York Times: What Ukraine has lost, building by building, block by block

Bloomberg: Backlogged US Defense Industry Crimps Bid for More Attack Subs

AP: U.S. Military Hopes To Reinstall Gaza Aid Pier Later This Week

Defense One: As Space Gets More Crowded, Pentagon Looks to AI to Spot Weapons

CBS News: Disinformation Campaign Uses Fake Footage To Claim Attack On USS Eisenhower

Reuters: Yemen’s Houthis Target 3 Vessels In Red Sea And Arabian Sea

Air & Space Forces Magazine: B-1 Bomber Drops Live Munitions in Exercise over South Korea

Air Force Times: Air Force’s Top Leaders Urge Unity, Patience as Changes Abound

Air & Space Forces Magazine: CYBERCOM Wields ‘Service-Like’ Authority as It Combines USAF, Army Programs

SpaceNews: The Satellite Breakup: Military’s Push to Go Small

Air & Space Forces Magazine: Air Force Buys First Lot of Norwegian Joint Strike Missiles

Breaking Defense: Germany’s Scholz Says 20 More Eurofighters to Be Ordered

Breaking Defense: What a Crashed Jet Means for an F

Jamie McIntyre
Jamie McIntyre
Senior writer covering defense and national security. An internationally known journalist with more than 40 years of experience, he served as CNN’s military affairs and senior Pentagon correspondent from 1992-2008 and Al Jazeera America’s national security correspondent from 2014-2016.

Latest stories


Related Articles

Leave a reply

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here
Captcha verification failed!
CAPTCHA user score failed. Please contact us!
Continue on app