© Patrick Semansky/AP
President Joe Biden did not confirm that Ukraine will be joining NATO as Zelensky stated on Twitter.
President Biden on Monday directly denied Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky's claim that NATO leaders agreed to allow his country to join the military alliance.

Biden refused to give a "yes" or "no" to Ukraine joining NATO while at the alliance's annual summit in Belgium.

"It depends on whether they meet the criteria. The fact is, they still have to clean up corruption. The fact is, they have to meet other criteria to get into the action plan. And so it's, you know, school's out on that question. It remains to be seen," Biden said at a press conference that was over two hours late in starting and lasted just over 16 minutes.

Comment: Biden highlighting corruption in Ukraine is surprising because he profited from and was directly involved in corruption in the country. It also seems a little odd because the US needs to keep Ukraine on-side because they're using them as proxies to provoke Russia. But, perhaps the recent, additional, payment from the Pentagon of $150 million dollars for arms that will 'improve Ukraine's lethality' will serve as temporary hush money?

It's also notable that the conference only lasted for 16 minutes; is this perhaps yet another sign of just how quickly Biden's health is deteriorating? It's no wonder he daren't do a press conference with Putin; Putin who is renowned for his Q&A's that can easily go on for hours.

Biden added: "It will not just depend on me whether or not we conclude that Ukraine can become part of NATO. It will depend on the alliance and how they vote."

Comment: Do Ukrainians get a say in this? Because at least 50% do not want NATO membership. As Putin pointed out, some of those against are likely aware that they will serve as mere cannon fodder should tensions escalate with Russia.

Shortly before the press conference, Zelensky tweeted that NATO "confirmed" that Ukraine could join the anti-Russia bloc, which commits members to collective defense.

"Commend @NATO partners' understanding of all the risks and challenges we face. NATO leaders confirmed that [Ukraine] will become a member of the Alliance & the #MAP is an integral part of the membership process. {Ukraine] deserves due appreciation of its role in ensuring Euro-Atlantic security," he tweeted.

The MAP, or Membership Action Plan, referred to in Zelensky's tweet defines candidate status to join the alliance, which emerged in the Cold War to counter the Soviet Union. Three other ex-Soviet countries are members of NATO.

© Sergei Supinsky/AFP via Getty Images
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky tweeted that it was “confirmed” that Ukraine will be joining NATO.
But moments after the tweet, US Secretary of State Tony Blinken denied that anything had changed when a Reuters reporters asked him in Belgium.

"Nothing new - nothing changed - this goes back to 2008," Blinken said, according to reporter Ed O'Keefe of CBS News. The top US diplomat was referring to a 2008 NATO conference at which the alliance indicated Ukraine might eventually join. Since that time, Ukraine has not received a Membership Action Plan that would put the country on course to do so.

Biden did say at the press conference that the US and other NATO allies "affirmed our continued support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine."

Ukraine is one of the poorest and most corrupt countries in Europe and its politics have vacillated between pro-Russian and pro-Western factions since the Cold War.

In 2014, protesters chased out pro-Russian leader Viktor Yanukovych. His ouster sparked counter protests across Ukraine's largely Russian-speaking south and east. Russia annexed Crimea after a disputed referendum and two Russia-backed breakaway republics govern parts of eastern Ukraine.

Comment: The same breakaway republics that Ukraine's military continues to illegally attack: Seven years after the Maidan coup divided Ukraine, shelling of Donbass intensifies with a deafening silence from Western media

Zelensky said in a Monday group interview with news outlets in Kiev that he wanted Biden to commit to accepting Ukraine as a member before he meets Wednesday with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva, Switzerland.

"If we are talking about NATO and the MAP, I would really like to get [from Biden] specifics - yes or no," Zelensky said.

Whether the White House supports NATO membership for Ukraine has been the subject of mixed messages from Biden aides.

The White House last month made a rare foreign policy pivot by simply crossing out the words in a press briefing transcript that had expressed support for Ukraine joining NATO.