US Secretary of State Antony Blinken advanced Washington’s confidence that Ukraine will eventually ascend to NATO, without a specific timeframe, during a meeting with his Ukrainian counterpart, Dmytro Kuleba, in Brussels on April 4. 

Speaking at the biannual NATO summit, Blinken said that the purpose of the assembly is “to help build a bridge to that membership and to create a clear pathway for Ukraine moving forward,” a readout from the Statement Department said. 

In turn, Kuleba focused on the immediate situation on the battlefield in the Russo-Ukrainian war before addressing prospects for NATO membership.

Ukraine’s top diplomat said his “sobering message... was about the state of Russian air attacks on my country, destroying our energy system, our economy, killing civilians,” while urging “allies... to provide... new additional air defense systems, the best of which is [the US-made] Patriot.”

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Regarding NATO membership, Kuleba said, “Ukraine deserves to be a member of NATO and that this should happen sooner – rather sooner – sooner rather than later.”

Afterward, the State Department said both had “talked about ways to bolster Ukraine’s energy sector in light of continued attacks from Russia,” while emphasizing Congressional action, which holds the so-called power of the purse, “to help the Ukrainian people to defend their country and their freedom against Russia’s ongoing brutal aggression.”

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Amid a shortage of US weaponry, Ukraine’s critical infrastructure, especially its power grids and thermal and hydroelectric stations, have sustained damages throughout March and this month.

Ahead of this November’s US presidential election, NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg on April 3 told foreign ministers of member countries in Brussels that an initiative is underway to start a $100 billion fund to continue providing much-needed weaponry to Ukraine.

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“We must ensure reliable and predictable security assistance to Ukraine for the long haul,” he said, adding that discussion is starting to see how “NATO could assume more responsibility for coordinating military equipment and training for Ukraine.” 

The assumption is that Republican Party front-runner Donald Trump won’t support further assistance to Ukraine and has publicly said that if any materiel is given, it should be provided in the form of a loan.

There has been a six-month delay in House approval of a bipartisan bill passed by the Senate that includes $60 billion in funding for Kyiv.

Both chambers of Congress are scheduled to reconvene after a two-week recess on April 9 and it is still unclear whether Rep. Johnson (R-LA) will bring the Senate’s bill to a vote.

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