CNN EXCLUSIVE: Biden says war with Russia must end before NATO considers Ukraine membership

Although Ukraine’s accession to NATO is not yet on the table, the US president promises that the US will continue to send weapons.

US President Joe Biden told CNN in an exclusive interview that Ukraine is not yet ready to join NATO, saying Russia’s war in Ukraine must end.

While the debate over Ukraine’s immediate NATO membership is premature, Biden told CNN International’s Fareed Zakaria that the United States and its NATO allies will continue to provide President Volodymyr Zelensky and his forces with the security and weapons they need to end the war with Russia.

Biden spoke with Zakaria ahead of his week-long trip to Europe that will include a NATO summit in Lithuania, where Russia’s war in Ukraine and Zelensky’s push for NATO membership will be among the meeting’s main issues.

“At this point, I don’t think there is a consensus in NATO whether or not we should bring Ukraine into the NATO family in the middle of a war,” Biden said. “For example, if they did, you know — I mean I mean — we’re committed to every inch of territory that belongs to NATO. It’s a commitment that we all make, no matter what. If that’s the case, we’re all at war, and then we’re at war with Russia.”

Biden said he spoke at length with Zelensky on the matter and told the Ukrainian president that while the process was underway, the U.S. would continue to provide security and arms to Ukraine, as it does to Israel.

“I think we need to chart a rational path so that Ukraine can qualify to join NATO,” Biden said, rejecting Russian President Vladimir Putin’s pre-war demands not to admit Ukraine because the alliance “has an open door policy.”

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“But I think it’s premature to say you have to vote now because other qualifications have to be met, including democratization and certain issues,” Biden said.

On Friday, the White House announced it was sending cluster bombs to Ukraine for the first time, a move to help bolster Ukraine’s ammunition arsenal. Biden told Zakaria that it was a difficult decision. Give Ukraine controversial ammunition, but he believed it was necessary because Ukraine was running low on ammunition.

A The NATO meeting comes as Sweden The move faced opposition from Turkey and Hungary, which want to join the Western alliance. He said to Bidan Zechariah There is hope for Sweden’s accession to NATOTurkey, the main opposition, is trying to modernize its fleet of F-16s, along with Greece, which voted in favor of accepting Sweden.

“Turkey is trying to modernize the F-16s. And (Greek Prime Minister Kiriakos) Mitsotakis in Greece is looking for some help,” Biden said. “So, let me be frank, we’re getting a coalition here, we’re strengthening NATO based on the military capability of Greece and Turkey, and we’re letting Sweden in. But it’s still. Catching up.. not done yet”.

In the wide-ranging interview, Biden and Zakaria also discussed other key foreign policy challenges, including China, Saudi Arabia and Israel.

Biden said Chinese President Xi Jinping wants to make the United States the world’s largest economy and the country with the greatest military capabilities, but said he believes the United States can have a working relationship with Beijing.

“I think there’s a way to solve that, to establish a working relationship with China that’s beneficial to them and to us,” Biden said. “The last thing I’ll tell you is, I called him after he had that meeting with the Russians about this new relationship and so forth, and I said, “It’s not a threat. This is an observation.” I said, “Since Russia entered Ukraine, 600 American companies have left Russia. You told me that your economy depends on investment from Europe and America. And be careful. Be careful”.

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Biden said that Xi was not arguing with him, and noted that China is “not completely anti-Russian.”

“He talks about nuclear war as a disaster, but there is such a thing as security,” Biden said of the Chinese leader. “So I think there’s a way we can do this.”

Asked about the possibility of inviting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the White House, Biden said Israeli President Isaac Herzog will visit the White House soon.

In March, Biden criticized Netanyahu for his plan to overhaul the country’s judicial system, a rare public event in which the two allies clashed publicly.

Biden told Zakaria that he continues to believe a two-state solution is the right way forward in the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, and criticized some members of Netanyahu’s cabinet for their comments on Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

“Everything that’s going on in the West Bank right now is not Israel’s fault, it’s not all Israel’s problem, but they are part of the problem, especially the people in the cabinet, who say, ‘We can settle anywhere. They don’t have the right to be here, etc.,'” Biden said. We’re continuing to talk to them, trying to mitigate what’s going on, and we’re hoping that Bibi will continue to move toward moderation and change.”

Biden defended his trip to Saudi Arabia last year, telling Zakaria that the visit had several successes, including the establishment of Israeli planes over the country. Asked about the possibility of the U.S. providing the Saudis with a civil defense agreement and nuclear capability, as requested by Riyadh, Biden said: “We’re a long way from that.”

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“Whether or not we’re going to provide a way for them to guarantee civilian nuclear power and/or their safety — I think that’s a long way off,” Biden said.

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