President Joe Biden on Saturday said his administration would not “make it easy” for Ukraine to join NATO, adding that the war-torn nation must meet the same standards as other member states.
Asked in a gaggle in Philadelphia about easing Ukraine’s path to joining the transatlantic alliance — likely in reference to the Membership Action Plan, a key obstacle in Ukraine’s efforts — Biden said: “No. Because they’ve got to meet the same standards. So we’re not going to make it easy.”
According to the MAP, candidate nations must make military and democratic reforms before consideration for NATO membership. Last week, Biden officials said the president was “open to” waiving the requirement for Ukraine, which this week launched a counterattack amid Russia’s war of aggression.
Biden added that the U.S. has “done a lot” to make sure Ukraine has the “ability to coordinate militarily.”
Biden on Saturday also conveyed a hopeful outlook on U.S.-China relations ahead of Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s trip to Beijing this weekend.
Blinken had been set to visit China in February but the trip was canceled after a U.S. fighter jet downed a Chinese spy balloon off the coast of the Carolinas.
Biden indicated to reporters that the balloon may not have been an intentional spying effort by the Chinese government.
“I don’t think the leadership knew where it was, and knew what was in it, and knew what was going on,” Biden said. “I think it was more embarrassing than it was intentional.”
In addition to Blinken’s visit, Biden indicated that he would meet with China’s President Xi Jinping again “over the next several months” to discuss how to “get along” despite “legitimate differences.”
Upon arrival in Philadelphia, where Biden is scheduled to headline a rally with labor unions and overfly the site of the I-95 bridge collapse, the president was greeted by adviser Anita Dunn, Sen. Bob Casey, Rep. Brendan Boyle, Gov. Josh Shapiro and Sen. John Fetterman.
Biden also committed that the federal government would “reimburse 100 percent” of the first phase of I-95 reconstruction, and then “90 percent” of the expenses thereafter.
At a press briefing with the Pennsylvania officials following the aerial tour of the I-95, Biden said “there’s no more important project right now in the country, as far as I’m concerned,” and said he was directing his team “not figuratively, but literally, to move heaven and earth to get this done as soon as humanly possible.”
Asked earlier whether he anticipated a contentious presidential campaign, Biden quipped: “It depends on who the nominee is.”