NATO summit in Vilnius: yes to Kiev in the Alliance, but not now

Elizabeth Smith

NATO will be ‘able to extend an invitation to Ukraine to join the Alliance when the allies agree and the conditions are met’. The leaders of the 31 allied countries, meeting in Vilnius, Lithuania, managed to compromise on a formula that puts stakes in Kiev’s membership prospect.

In the evening, Stoltenberg said ‘Under our new plans, NATO aims to have 300,000 troops at high readiness. Including significant air and naval power’. This was stated by the Secretary General of the Atlantic Alliance during the press conference held at the end of the first day of the NATO summit in Vilnius.

Stoltenberg also explained that ‘the allies have approved the most comprehensive defence plans since the end of the Cold War‘ with the aim of countering the two main threats NATO faces, namely ‘Russia and terrorism’.

Moscow’s response to the Vilnius summit

Moscow’s response: ‘Preliminary results of the NATO summit in Vilnius bring World War III closer. Russian Security Council deputy chairman Dmitry Medvedev writes this on Telegram.

“The West, completely gone mad, could think of nothing else. Predictability at the highest level, to the point of idiocy. It is a dead end. World War III is approaching,” he said, adding that this means that “the special military operation will continue with the same objectives”. One of which “is to prevent the Kiev Nazi group from joining NATO”.

Ukraine’s entry in NATO, the conditions

The ‘conditions’ Ukraine needs to meet, explained Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, concern the reforms the country must make to have solid defence institutions, ‘including the fight against corruption’.

In addition, Ukraine will have to have armed forces that are ‘interoperable’ with those of NATO. The Alliance has decided to adopt a multi-year programme of support for Kiev, to help it converge and become ‘closer’ to NATO.

In addition, a Nato-Ukraine Council is being established, to be chaired by Zelensky.

Zelensky’s reaction to the summit results

The Ukrainian president was hoping for more and did not take it well. Before arriving in Vilnius he had attacked the Alliance.

“It is absurd and unprecedented that no time frame is set either for the invitation or for Ukraine’s accession. While, at the same time, a vague wording on ‘conditions’ is also added for the invitation to Ukraine. There seems to be no solicitude either for inviting Ukraine into NATO or for making it a member of the Alliance. This means that a window of opportunity is left to negotiate Ukraine’s NATO membership in negotiations with Russia. For Russia, this is a motivation to continue with its terror. Uncertainty is weakness. And I will speak openly about it at the summit”.

Zelensky arrived in Vilnius in the afternoon, before the dinner deserted by Biden. A sign that he must not have liked Zelensky’s words.

Read also: Biden in London ahead of NATO summit in Vilnius. Sunak: ‘On cluster bombs to Ukraine you are wrong’

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