The highlight of the final day of the Vilnius summit, which concludes this Wednesday in the capital of Lithuania, will be a meeting of the newly created NATO-Ukraine Council (a forum for crisis consultations and decision-making on an equal footing), with the in-person participation of Volodimir Zelensky. A meeting planned to stage the unwavering political and military support of the Atlantic Alliance for Ukraine in the face of the Kremlin’s aggression, but which is now feared to lead to a Stormy debate over Ukrainian president’s protests.
NATO has infuriated Zelensky with his decision to rule out a quick Ukraine entry to the club and his refusal to set any kind of timetable or roadmap. “We will be in a position to extend an invitation to Ukraine to join the Alliance when allies agree and conditions are met“, reads the statement unanimously approved by NATO leaders at the end of the first session of the Vilnius summit.
This indeterminate and confused formula has been the compromise solution found for preserve the precarious unity between the two sides in contention within the Alliance. On the one hand, Poland and the Baltics supported Zelensky’s aspiration to receive an invitation in Vilnius. “Ukraine’s NATO membership is the best security guarantee that exists and also the cheapest“, proclaimed Estonian Prime Minister and rising star on the European scene, Kaja Kallas, upon arrival at the meeting.
[La OTAN invitará a Kiev “cuando los aliados estén de acuerdo y se cumplan las condiciones”]
At the opposite extreme, the United States and Germany fear that giving Kiev the green light will trigger open war between NATO and Russia. “We would be at war with Russia, if this scenario occurs“U.S. President Joe Biden said in an interview on just before traveling to Europe to participate in the Vilnius summit.
In the end, the war with Russia has been the factor that has weighed the most in delaying kyiv’s aspirations to join NATO, according to his own admission. Jens Stoltenberg. “Ukrainian forces have shown a bravery and competence that has impressed the whole world, but at the same time there is an open war. All the allies agree that While there is a war going on, this is not the time to make Ukraine a NATO member.“said the Secretary General.
“It is absurd and unprecedented that no deadline is set neither for the invitation nor for the accession of Ukraine. While at the same time adding vague wording about the ‘conditions’ even for inviting Ukraine,” Zelensky protested in a lengthy post on Twitter even before details of the Atlantic Alliance deal were known.
“It seems that there is no provision either to invite Ukraine to NATO or to make it a member of the Alliance. This means that a window of opportunity is being left for haggle over Ukraine’s NATO membership in negotiations with Russia. And for Russia, this means motivation to continue its terror.” holds the ukrainian president. “NATO will give Ukraine security, Ukraine will make NATO stronger,” Zelensky proclaimed at a rally upon his arrival in Vilnius.
[Zelenski protesta por la negativa de la OTAN a ofrecerle un calendario de adhesión: “Es absurdo”]
For his part, Stoltenberg has done his best to cool things down. and highlight the positive side of NATO’s offer to Ukraine. The allies have approved a multi-year plan for military assistance to kyiv aimed at accelerating the abandonment of Soviet-era equipment and facilitating interoperability of Ukrainian forces with the Alliance. The aforementioned NATO-Ukraine Council has also been created. Finally, the requirement of an Accession Action Plan is removed: once you receive the green light from the Allies, the entry will occur in one phase and not in two.
“The most urgent task now is to ensure that Ukraine prevailsbecause unless Ukraine prevails, there will be nothing to discuss about accession”, maintains the secretary general. In this sense, NATO leaders have announced new packages of military aid to Kiev: France will supply long-range cruise missiles, Germany it will send air defenses and armored vehicles and the United States is preparing a new assistance package.
Otherwise, NATO leaders have approved “the defense plans most complete since the end of the Cold War”, which are designed to counter what are considered the two main threats: Russia and terrorism. Plans that will mean putting a total of 300,000 soldiers on alert. In this context, The Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez, has announced that he will send additional troops to Slovakia and Romania to strengthen the defense of NATO’s eastern flank against the Kremlin.
Finally, the Atlantic Alliance has given its approval to a new Defense Production Action Plan, whose objective is to accelerate the joint acquisition of material, promote interoperability and increase the capacity of the European industry. Minister Margarita Robles had blocked the Plan for what she considered discrimination by the Spanish industry, but she has lifted her veto after obtaining additional guarantees. In addition, the leaders have agreed that the objective of investing 2% of GDP in defense will from now on be a minimum and not a ceiling.