The annual meeting of the now 31 members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) began, which this year takes place in the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius. Leaders such as Joe Biden, Justin Trudeau, Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Emmanuel Macron have already arrived at the summit venue to address two specific objectives: Sweden’s entry and the future of relations between the alliance and Ukraine.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on July 11 that military support for Kiev will continue to be the focus of the talks and called on the Alliance member states to grant “security guarantees” to Ukraine, as well as the creation of a plan to relax the “formal conditions” for its membership.
“I hope that the allies send a clear, united and positive message about the path towards Ukraine’s accession,” said Jens Stoltenberg upon arrival at the meeting venue in Vilnius. Similarly, French President Emmanuel Macron confirmed that his country will start supplying Kiev with long-range missiles, in support of his counteroffensive that began a little over a month ago against the Russian military forces.
Despite pledges of support and endorsement from the Secretary General for its membership, Ukraine’s NATO membership remains an uncertain process. The alliance cannot invite Kiev while it has an active war on its territory, and although once the conflict is over, accession is possible, there is not a full consensus among the allies on the issue.
The Ukrainian president, Volodimír Zelenski, is already in the Lithuanian capital to meet with the leaders of the nations that make up the Military Alliance and discuss the possible entry of his country. On this last point, the Ukrainian president was vocal in his criticism of the ambiguity of the allies with the Kiev accession process.
“It is unheard of and absurd that no deadline is set for Ukraine’s invitation or accession. At the same time, vague words are added about the “conditions” even for inviting Ukraine (…) It seems that there is neither will nor invite Ukraine to NATO or make it a member of the Alliance,” the president wrote on Twitter.
We value our allies. We value our shared security. And we always appreciate an open conversation.
Ukraine will be represented at the NATO summit in Vilnius. Because it is about respect.
But Ukraine also deserves respect. Now, on the way to Vilnius, we received signals that…
— Volodimir Zelensky (@ZelenskyyUa) July 11, 2023
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