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NATO’s Vilnius summit will unite Alliance behind Ukraine and bring it closer to NATO – Stoltenberg

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at a press conference in NATO HQ. Brussels, 7 July 2023. Photo: screenshot from the official video.
NATO’s Vilnius summit will unite Alliance behind Ukraine and bring it closer to NATO – Stoltenberg
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the Alliance’s summit next week in Vilnius will bring Ukraine closer to joining the Alliance.

The Lithuanian capital will host the summit on 11 and 12 July.

“For 500 days, Moscow has brought death and destruction to the heart of Europe, seeking to destroy Ukraine and divide NATO. Our Summit will send a clear message: NATO stands united, and Russia’s aggression will not pay,” Stoltenberg told reporters at a news conference in the Brussels-based NATO headquarters on 7 July, adding that “At the Summit, we will make Ukraine even more stronger, and set out a vision for its future.”

The NATO chief expects that Allied leaders agree a package comprising three elements to “bring Ukraine closer to NATO.”

  • a multi-year assistance program “to ensure full interoperability between the Ukrainian armed forces and NATO”;
  • establishing the NATO-Ukraine Council to “upgrade our political ties”;
  • reaffirming that Ukraine will become a member of NATO.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has previously urged the upcoming summit to provide Ukraine with “concrete security guarantees” and clear terms and timelines for Ukraine’s NATO membership. He called on US President Joe Biden to invite Ukraine into NATO now even if the membership comes after the war.

Stoltenberg says  President Zelenskyy will join us for the inaugural meeting of the new NATO-Ukraine Council, which will become “a platform for crisis consultation and decision-making, “Where we all sit as equals to address shared security concerns.”

The NATO chief said that Allies have already pledged €500 million for critical needs, including “fuel, medical supplies, demining equipment, and pontoon bridges.”

Back in 2008, the Bucharest summit declared that Ukraine and Georgia would become NATO members but failed to offer the two countries a Membership Action Plan for their accession.

Asked how different the Vilnius summit’s declaration will be from Bucharest’s one, Stoltenberg replied, “There are many differences,” with one of them being the fact that Ukraine has come “much closer to NATO,” and the expected adoption of the proposed package would “move Ukraine even closer to NATO.”

Regarding the precise wording of the future declaration, the NATO chief noted:

“So we are, as we always are ahead of NATO Summit, now consulting and working on the exact language.”

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