The Biden administration is "open" to other countries, including Ukraine, joining NATO when they "are able to meet the commitments and obligations of membership," White House Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters today on Air Force One.
When pressed by a reporter, "You support Ukraine joining NATO?" Jean-Pierre, according to the New York Post, said, "Yeah, yeah. Like I said, the Biden administration is committed to ensuring that NATO’s door remains open to aspirants when they are ready and able to meet the commitments."
"So they have to meet the commitments and the obligations of membership and contribute to security in the Euro-Atlantic area," added Jean-Pierre.
Before that exchange, Jean-Pierre had said, “The United States supports Ukraine’s effort to advance rule of law reforms and economic growth and its border — and its border fight against Russian aggression.”
When a reporter interjected, “The door remaining open is not a ‘no'" to NATO membership, Jean-Pierre replied, "We support it."
In Ukraine today meeting with President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said, "I can tell you, Mr. President, that we stand strongly with you, partners do as well. I heard the same thing when I was at NATO a couple of weeks ago and we look to Russia to cease reckless and aggressive actions."
Later, at a press conference, Blinken said, "Ukraine is facing two challenges: aggression from outside, coming from Russia, and in effect aggression from within, coming from corruption, oligarchs and others who are putting their interests ahead of those of the Ukrainian people."
The Ukraine borders western Russia, Moldova, Romania, Hungary, Poland, Belarus, and the Black Sea. The Crimea -- which is a peninsula in the Black Sea next to southern Ukraine and connected by bridge to Russia -- was annexed by Russia in 2014. Ukraine itself was part of the Soviet Union until 1991, when it became a neutral state.
Currently, Russia has thousands of troops in the Crimea, as well as artillery systems, military planes, and Naval vessels.
Fighting has occurred between Ukrainian forces and Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine for the last seven years. Ukraine claims that 14,000 people have died in the fighting, according to Reuters.
"America has no reason to defend Ukraine," said Doug Bandow with the Cato Institute, in a recent commentary. "Kiev deserves America’s sympathy. It’s in a bad neighborhood. To paraphrase the old quip about Mexico, Ukraine is so close to Russia, so far from the rest of the world."
"Worse, the country is an artificial amalgam of east and west, of nationalist and Russian heritage and language," said Bandow. "It has enjoyed barely three decades of independence after centuries as part of the Soviet Union and Russian Empire before that. Its brief independent life has been marred by corrupt, incompetent, and malign leaders."
"It is not this nation’s purpose to be guardian of every people and territory on earth," said Bandow. "Especially every complicated and dangerous part of it. Ukraine should not be a member of NATO. Ukraine should not receive an American security guarantee."
"Ultimately, Europe, Russia, and Ukraine must work out how to share their common continent," he said. "How to do so is up to them, not Washington. Better for them to explore new compromises for peace than make new commitments for war."