English Section

WRAP-UP: NATO's Vilnius summit shortens Ukraine’s path to membership

12.07.2023 23:45
NATO leaders meeting at a summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, have pledged to support Ukraine "for as long as it takes” and shortened Kyiv’s path to membership of the alliance, while the Group of Seven major industrialised countries have unveiled new security assurances for Ukraine.
  • NATO adopts new defence plans during the Vilnius Summit
Britains Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, US President Joe Biden, Italys Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, NATO Secretary -General Jens Stoltenberg and Ukraines President Volodymyr Zelensky attend the NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, on Wednesday,  July 12, 2023.
Britain's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, US President Joe Biden, Italy's Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, NATO Secretary -General Jens Stoltenberg and Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky attend the NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, on Wednesday, July 12, 2023. PAP/EPA/FILIP SINGER

The two-day summit of NATO leaders in the  Lithuanian capital concluded on Wednesday afternoon, Polish state news agency reported.

Speaking to the media at the end of the two-day meeting to announce the G7 support package for Ukraine, US President Joe Biden said: “Ukraine continues to make progress on necessary reforms. But we’re not waiting for that process to be finished to make the long-term commitments that we’re making to Ukraine’s security.”

The US leader added he had discussed the issue of security guarantees with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky during his visit to Kyiv earlier in the year.

Biden stated: “And so, today, the long-term commitments we’re making are — are backed up by the notion that in the meantime we’re going to provide security to Ukraine for its needs and against any aggression that may occur. Today, the members of the G7 are launching a Joint Declaration of Support for Ukraine to make it clear that our support will last long into the future.”

Biden declared: “This starts a process by which each of our nations and any other nation who wishes to participate will negotiate long-term bilateral security commitments with and to Ukraine.” 

The US president pledged: “We’re going to help Ukraine build a strong, capable defence across land, air, and sea from which we will force the — it will be a force of stability in the region and deter against any and all threats.”

The G7 comprises the United States, Germany, Japan, France, Canada, Italy and Britain, as well as the European Union, the Reuters news agency noted.

Biden also said: “I hope we finally have put to bed the notion about whether or not Ukraine is welcome in NATO. It’s going to happen. We’re all moving in the right direction. I think it’s just a matter of getting by the next few months.” 

Ukraine’s Zelensky thanks for NATO allies’ support, G7 security assurances

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky, who spoke to reporters alongside Biden and other G7 leaders, welcomed the group’s security assurances for his country, as well as fresh pledges of weapons from several NATO allies.

He said: Today there are security guarantees for Ukraine on the way to NATO ... that shall be further extended through arrangements with our key partners. The Ukrainian delegation is bringing home a significant security victory for Ukraine, for our country, for our people, for our children.”

He later said of the G7 declaration: "The new document should be valid for as long as Ukraine is not in NATO. Today's declaration opens that possibility with strong bilateral agreements.”

Zelensky added that the best guarantee was still to be in the alliance itself, according to Reuters.

Zelensky thanks Biden for US support of Ukraine

The US and Ukrainian presidents also held bilateral talks in Vilnius, the PAP news agency reported.

Zelensky later said in a tweet: “A meaningful, powerful meeting with US President Joe Biden in Vilnius. We discussed in detail the situation on the frontline, our capabilities, further long-term defence cooperation, and internal Russian processes given the recent events.”

He added: “The United States has stood side by side with Ukraine throughout our defence against aggression. We appreciate it tremendously."

He thanked Biden, the US Congress and the American people "for the vitally important assistance - military, financial, political - provided to Ukraine since the beginning of Russia's full-scale invasion.”

NATO shortens Ukraine’s path to membership, brings Ukraine closer to alliance

On Tuesday, NATO leaders pledged in the Vilnius Summit Communiqué that “that Ukraine will become a member of NATO,” and that “Ukraine’s path to full Euro-Atlantic integration has moved beyond the need for the Membership Action Plan.”

They also unveiled a multi-year assistance programme “to facilitate the transition of the Ukrainian armed forces from Soviet-era to NATO standards” and established a new NATO-Ukraine Council, as further measures to “bring Ukraine closer” to the alliance, according to officials.

NATO leaders pledged: “We will be in a position to extend an invitation to Ukraine to join the Alliance when Allies agree and conditions are met.”

Asked by reporters what conditions Ukraine needed to meet for membership, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said one dimension was having “good governance … modern defence and security institutions,” and “the other issue is the ongoing war in Ukraine.” 

Poland’s defence minister meets with Biden in Vilnius 

Poland’s Defence Minister Mariusz Błaszczak held talks with the US president on the second day of the Vilnius summit, the PAP news agency reported.

Błaszczak spoke to Biden about the security of NATO’s eastern flank and support for Ukraine, according to officials. 

Earlier, the Polish defence minister met with Finnish President Sauli Niinistö and Latvian Defence Minister Ināra Mūrniece, according to the PAP news agency.

Germany, France promise further security assistance to Ukraine

Meanwhile, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz hailed the Vilnius summit as “a success that has strengthened NATO and boosted the alliance’s readiness to defend itself,” public broadcaster Polish Radio’s IAR news agency reported.

Scholz confirmed Germany’s new EUR 700 million package of security assistance to Ukraine, including Patriot air defence launchers, Marder infantry fighting vehicles and Leopard 1A5 main battle tanks, according to IAR.

French President Emmanuel Macron said the path for Ukraine to join NATO was “open,” even though the Vilnius summit stopped short of giving Ukraine a clear timeframe for membership, the AP news agency reported.

Macron also said that “time is on Ukraine’s side” in the war, because last month’s attempted mutiny by Wagner mercenaries had “shown the weakness of Russian power.”

The French president reiterated a promise to send SCALP long-range missiles to Ukraine and urged NATO allies to maintain a long-term commitment to support Kyiv, according to the AP.

Macron said, as quoted by the AP: "Even if the war drags on, we will still be there."

Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022, launching the largest military campaign in Europe since World War II.

Wednesday was day 504 of Russia’s war on Ukraine.


Source: IAR, PAP, Reuters, Politico, NATO, White House, AP, CNN