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UPDATE 1-US envoy doesn’t expect Ukraine NATO invitation at July summit

The U.S. Ambassador to NATO, Julianne Smith, said she does not expect the alliance to issue a membership invitation to Ukraine at its summit in Washington this coming July.

“As for the Summit this summer, I do not expect the alliance to issue an invitation at this juncture,” Ms. Smith said on February 13, in response to a question on a call with journalists ahead of a NATO Defence Ministers’ meeting on Thursday.

As it fights Russia’s invasion, Ukraine has made clear its aim is to become a member of the U.S.-led military alliance. Kyiv and some of its allies inside NATO, particularly in Eastern Europe, have pushed for a membership invitation even as they accept Ukraine could not join NATO while still at war.

At a summit in Lithuania last year, NATO leaders said Ukraine’s future was in the alliance but stopped short of issuing an invitation or setting out a timeline for membership. “We’ve worked very hard since the Vilnius summit last year to move out on a number of steps to continue to help our friends in Ukraine with the necessary reforms inside their own country to move closer to Euro-Atlantic integration,” Ms. Smith said.

“And we continue to focus first and foremost on supporting them in the current fight and ensuring that they can prevail on the battlefield.”

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