“I don’t think there is a consensus in NATO about whether or not to include Ukraine in the NATO family right now, at this moment, in the midst of the war,” US President Joe Biden said in an interview with CNN on Friday. Broadcast on Sunday. If war is going on, we are all at war. We are at war with Russia, if that’s the case.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky met his Polish counterpart on Sunday, in the latest round of diplomacy with NATO members ahead of the summit in Lithuania on Tuesday. Zelensky also discussed the possible course of negotiations in an interview with ABC News.
The foreign ministers of Türkiye and Russia spoke by phone on Sunday. Hakan Fidan and Sergey Lavrov discussed recent developments in Ukraine, incl last return Commanders of the Azov Regiment from Türkiye to Ukraine. The pair also spoke about the soon-to-expire shipping agreement in the Black Sea. The Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the continued supply of military equipment to Kiev “will only lead to negative consequences” for Ankara.
US decision on Friday to submit Controversial cluster bombs To Ukraine is still making waves, with NATO members Italy, the UK and Spain – all staunch Kiev allies – questioning the move. Ukraine said it would maintain strict controls on the use of weapons. It is expected that Sunak and Biden will discuss the US decision in their meeting.
The latest developments
Solidarity or quarrel: five things to watch at the NATO summit
The leaders of the 31 nations that make up NATO are gathering in Vilnius, Lithuania, for a two-day summit starting Tuesday, as Russia’s war in Ukraine approaches its 18-month threshold.
The meeting comes at a crucial moment in the conflict. NATO is seeking to bolster Kiev with new munitions—including cluster bombs supplied by the United States—for its counteroffensive, and gauge the impact of the aborted June insurrection by Wagner Group chief Yevgeny Prigozhin on Russian command and operations.
But the alliance is also grappling with internal discord over Turkey’s reluctance to accept Sweden’s membership and whether it would pave the way for eventual accession by Ukraine.
However, the assembled leaders – including US President Joe Biden, who remains the most powerful figure in the coalition – are keen to use this week’s meeting to suggest that the conflict in Ukraine has only strengthened NATO.
Here’s what to watch as world leaders descend on Vilnius:
Swedish membership: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is set to meet Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson on Monday ahead of the summit, as the Scandinavian country makes a last-ditch effort to convince Ankara that it should be allowed to join NATO.
Turkey said its opposition stemmed from concerns that Sweden was not doing enough to clamp down on Kurdish separatist groups, which Ankara considers terrorist organisations.
Erdogan also indicated his enthusiasm for meeting Biden — US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said he expected the two to speak at the summit — and the purchase of US F-16 fighter jets for his military.
Ukraine aid: Ukraine will be a major topic, as Zelensky plans to take part in the summit.
The 31 NATO countries are expected to make Kiev a promise of long-term support, aimed at deepening ties without immediately becoming a member, given that the bloc’s Article 5 security guarantees could draw allies into Russia’s war against Ukraine. The United States announced an $800 million package on Friday that includes controversial cluster munitions, which some NATO allies have banned due to humanitarian concerns about unexploded ordnance.
Biden, in an interview with CNN, said on July 7 that Ukraine is not “ready for membership in NATO” due to reasons including Russia’s ongoing attack on the country and NATO’s Article 5 provisions.
Zelensky called on the summit to send clear signals of support for his country’s membership, urging allies to offer a more realistic perspective beyond a 15-year-old statement that Ukraine would eventually join.
Allies grapple with how to address the question in the summit statement, as some eastern NATO members push for a more solid path. Countries like the United States and Germany wanted to focus instead on immediate assistance. One option might entail declaring that Ukraine does not require an Action Plan for membership — a way to fast-track the country
NATO leaders are also expected to agree to €500 million annually in non-lethal aid to help Ukraine modernize its military. On the sidelines of the summit, some allies are expected to pledge bilateral security guarantees to Ukraine, committing to ensuring its armed forces are well-equipped and well-trained in a bid to deter Russia from re-invading after the war ends.
Defense spending: NATO leaders are set to sign a new Defense Spending Pledge, with a permanent commitment to spend “at least” 2% of GDP on defence. The agreement expands the coalition’s previous ambitious goal of targeting 2% and underscores pledges to spend more after invading Ukraine.
But many countries – including Luxembourg, Canada and Italy – are still struggling to comply with the old guideline. Only 11 out of 31 allies are expected to meet the 2% target this year, according to estimates released by NATO on Friday.
The coalition is also expected to sign off on three regional defense plans for the first time since the end of the Cold War, which detail how countries will defend territory if attacked by Russia or terrorist groups.
Leaders are also set to approve a defense industry action plan, aimed at boosting defense production as Ukraine burns artillery munitions faster than allies can produce them.
Secretary General: One of the biggest questions facing the leaders gathered in Vilnius is who will lead their group into the future, especially as the conflict in Ukraine threatens to drag on.
Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg agreed last week to serve another year – his fourth extension in the top job – despite earlier stating he was not seeking an extension.
But neither of the top candidates to replace him — Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen or Britain’s Defense Secretary Ben Wallace — seemed able to muster enough consensus to secure the job, and the US ultimately refrained from publicly endorsing a candidate. Biden’s top priority has been maintaining unity within the coalition, according to a person familiar with the matter.
Special relationship: Biden’s visit to the UK, his second in three months, is largely seen as a make-up trip after he refused to attend Charles III’s coronation in May.
Although Biden plans to visit 10 Downing Street to meet Prime Minister Rishi Sunak before traveling to Windsor Castle, he is expected to stay on the grounds for less than a day. During his royal audience, Biden and Britain’s new monarch are expected to unveil a dual effort toward a mutual passion — enlisting private companies to help fund projects that can reduce climate change.
The British will be looking for Biden to reaffirm his commitment to a series of small trade, military and technology agreements that Sunak described as the “Atlantic Declaration” during his visit to the White House last month.
Polish and Ukrainian leaders are looking to heal the wounds left over from World War II
The presidents of Ukraine and Poland gathered for a church service on Sunday to commemorate an event 80 years ago that was among the central to Polish consciousness – Volyn massacre.
In the closing years of World War II, Ukrainian nationalist units targeted Polish national minorities, killing up to 100,000—including many women and children—in an area that was then within the borders of Nazi-occupied Poland but is now in western Ukraine.
The Polish parliament passed a resolution in 2016 declaring these acts genocide. Warsaw clashed with Kiev at times over a ban on proposed Polish exhumation work in the area.
Poland has been one of Ukraine’s closest allies since the Russian invasion in February 2022, providing significant military aid and taking in millions of refugees. However, the Volyn case remains controversial, and in an election year, some Polish politicians called on Kiev to make a formal apology.
Zelensky’s appearance on Sunday may have been a step in that direction. Together with Pole Andrzej Duda, he attended a memorial service in Lutsk, about 100 kilometers east of the present-day Polish-Ukrainian border.
The head of the Ukrainian weapons department intensifies production to counter missile strikes
Just months after being appointed to oversee Ukraine’s arms industry, Oleksandr Kamyshin said it produced more mortars and artillery shells in June than it did in the whole of the past year.
He says how many secrets. While that result is a success in a country where many of its factories are routinely hit by Russian missile attacks, Kamyshin says he still has a long way to go.
“I wouldn’t say we were great at managing an increase in ammunition production in three months,” he said in an interview in his office in Kiev. “We produced very little in 2022.”
Kamyshin, who describes himself as a transformation specialist, is now facing a business reformation with few precedents. The 39-year-old aims to remake Ukraine’s sprawling defense industry – known for decades for corruption and inefficiency – into an engine of the war effort that will determine his country’s fate. All while fighting rages over his plants.
Arms supplies to Ukraine from the United States and its allies have been the main focus of the war so far. But Kiev is racing to build its own production so it doesn’t have to rely on charity forever. Later, Kamyshin aims to make Ukraine a major arms exporter again.
“We have to be ambitious, because we have no other choice,” said Kamyshin, putting on the traditional Cossack braid. “My goal is to make Ukraine the arsenal of the free world.”
Ukraine is not a newcomer to the arms trade, having become – albeit briefly in 2012 – the fourth largest arms exporter in the world. As part of the Soviet Union, arms factories made up a large part of the bloc’s massive weapons complex, leaving huge stocks of heirlooms for sale when the bloc collapsed. The Malyshev Tank Factory alone employed 60,000 workers at the height of the Cold War.
The Kremlin says Türkiye’s return of the defenders of Azov violates the agreement
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Turkey violated existing agreements after it returned five Azov battalion commanders to Ukraine. RIA Novosti.
Earlier on Saturday, Zelensky V.V Tweet That five “heroes” were returning home “to finally be with their relatives.”
Five Ukrainian commanders who took over the defense of the Azovstal steel plant in the port city of Mariupol for several months against Russian attack were among prisoners of war exchanged between Russia and Ukraine in September, and Turkey and Saudi Arabia have been involved in exchange talks. The leaders were released on the condition that they serve out the rest of the war Zelensky said at the time in Türkiye under the personal protection of Erdogan.
“The return of the ‘Azov’ chiefs from Turkey to Ukraine is nothing more than a direct violation of the terms of the existing agreements,” he said. Peskov said RIA Novosti. Moreover, in this case, the Ukrainian side and the Turkish side violated the terms.
Peskov said that there is great pressure on Ankara as it prepares for the NATO summit next week. Türkiye, of course, as a member of NATO, shows its solidarity with the alliance. “We understand all this very well,” Peskov said. DM