According to the The North Atlantic Treaty Organization(NATO) Secretary-General, Jens Stoltenberg, the alliance will enhance political connections with Ukraine during an upcoming summit, but discussions regarding a membership invitation for Kyiv will not be on the agenda.
Stoltenberg stated, “At the Vilnius Summit, we will not be discussing an invitation, but rather how we can bring Ukraine closer to NATO.” He expressed confidence in finding a suitable solution and achieving consensus.
As a symbolic gesture, alliance leaders intend to convene the inaugural session of a NATO-Ukraine Council with President Volodymyr Zelensky in the Lithuanian capital, as mentioned by Stoltenberg. This step signifies an advancement in political ties and will provide Kyiv with a more equal position at the table for consultation and decision-making on security matters.
Nevertheless, this development is viewed as insufficient compensation for the lack of progress in Ukraine’s efforts to join the protective umbrella of the US-led military alliance.
NATO member countries remain divided on how to address Kyiv’s demands for a clear indication that it will be accepted once Russia’s conflict concludes. Eastern European NATO nations have been pushing for a more defined roadmap for Ukraine’s membership aspirations. However, major allies such as the United States and Germany are hesitant to go beyond the vague pledge made in 2014 that Ukraine will eventually become a member.
German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius suggested that certain membership requirements could potentially be relaxed if Ukraine becomes adequately prepared to join. Diplomats indicate that, as an interim measure before full membership, allies are discussing providing Ukraine with security assurances and guaranteed weapon supplies to aid in its self-defense. The United States, United Kingdom, France, and Germany are currently leading these discussions, according to diplomats.
Since the start of Russia’s extensive invasion in February of the previous year, NATO countries have already furnished Ukraine with weaponry worth tens of billions of dollars.
Stoltenberg is also advocating for NATO members to commit to a multi-year assistance package that would help bring Ukraine closer to meeting alliance standards. The initial goal was to allocate 500 million euros annually for this program, but diplomats report that the allies have yet to reach that figure.
Source: Agence France-Presse and SGP