NATO is looking for Putin's borders with new allies and helps Kiev

NATO is looking for Putin’s borders with new allies and helps Kiev

During a meeting in the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius, NATO leaders promised to invite Ukraine to join the bloc “when the allies agree and conditions are met” with a speedy accession process. They also provided new aid to the long-term government of President Volodymyr Zelensky and created structures for closer coordination.

“What we have agreed on is a very substantial package that helps bring Ukraine closer to NATO,” Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said at a press conference closing the first day of talks. “At no time has there been a stronger message from NATO.”

This message also applies to the alliance’s northern expansion. Finnish Prime Minister Sauli Niinisto attended the summit as a full member for the first time and was joined by Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson, who helped persuade Turkey to lift its objections to his country’s request on the eve of the talks. The addition of Finland and Sweden to the alliance greatly increases NATO’s ability to support the three Baltic members that could have been easily cut off from the rest of the alliance in the conflict.

In another show of support for Ukraine on Wednesday, the G7 countries are expected to separately offer Ukraine additional security obligations On the sidelines of the summit to deter Russia from attacking again in the future.

The developments establish a new security framework that emerged last year in response to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. As Finland and Sweden abandon decades of neutrality and NATO allies deepen their coordination with Kiev after shipments of tanks, missiles and other weapons worth billions of dollars, Putin’s idea of ​​a buffer zone between Russia and the West has become a part of history.

Fifteen years ago, the alliance’s pledge that Ukraine would one day join proved insufficient to prevent the steady escalation of Russian hostility that led to last year’s all-out invasion. The allies have been grappling in recent months over how to bypass the 2008 summit statement.

Some countries were concerned that they would limit room for maneuver in future negotiations with the Kremlin if the pledge was too concrete, according to an official. Others worried that the final statement was not firm enough and risked repeating the mistakes of the previous generation.

Ahead of the deal, Zelensky, who will meet with President Joe Biden on Wednesday, criticized the coalition for refusing to give him a clear timeline for membership in a statement posted to Twitter as he traveled to the meeting.

“This seems to be no willingness to invite Ukraine to NATO or make it a member of the alliance,” he said, adding that such an “unprecedented and ridiculous” result would make his country more vulnerable to Russian pressure in any possible future negotiations.

The Russia war effectively cuts off Ukraine’s NATO membership for the time being, since expanding the bloc’s collective defense commitments to Kiev would bring the United States and its allies into direct conflict with Russia, a situation that Western leaders are not willing to concede.

Later, the Ukrainian president told a crowd of thousands gathered in the center of the Lithuanian capital that Ukraine would make NATO stronger and the alliance would provide security for his country.

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NATO diplomats have been arguing over the wording of membership for weeks, with some eastern members pushing for a concrete roadmap, while countries like the United States wanted to focus instead on immediate assistance to fend off an attack by Russia.

The diplomats wanted to smooth out the negotiations before the summit and avoid letting the leaders draft the statement, as happened in Bucharest in 2008. There is a school of thought that the agreement that leaders including George W. Give them adequate protection from Russia.

At the time, the leaders agreed that Ukraine, as well as Georgia, would “become members of NATO” and stated that the Membership Action Plan (MAP) would be the next step, but they stopped formally launching any operation. Putin, who also attended the summit, warned that NATO expansion would force Russia to respond with measures to protect its security, and in 2022 he tried to justify his invasion of Ukraine by linking it to the expansion of the alliance.

Tuesday’s agreement means Ukraine will no longer need to go through the MAP before joining the alliance. Instead, Kiev will face regular reviews of its progress in tackling corruption and other reforms.

NATO allies are set to individually commit to supplying modern weapons to Ukraine in the long term, as well as providing training, sharing intelligence and supporting the development of the country’s defense industry. Each country will make different commitments, and other countries can join the arrangements, with details to be negotiated in the future.

The language on NATO membership is part of a broader package aimed at deepening ties with Kiev and emphasizing long-term support for the alliance. The allies have upgraded the official status of the bloc’s relations with Kyiv through the newly created NATO-Ukraine Council, which will allow the country to participate directly in broader discussions about alliance security and to consult with allies on its security concerns. NATO also agreed to create a multi-year Non-Lethal Assistance and Financing Program to help modernize the country’s military, helping make it more interoperable with allied systems. DM


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