VILNIUS, Lithuania (AP) — U.S. President Joe Biden and his NATO counterparts concluded a two-day summit on Wednesday with pledges of long-term support for Ukraine, but no offer to protect the country under the umbrella. alliance security.
The results of the meeting in Lithuania, a country on NATO’s eastern flank that borders Russia, were mixed. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskky was grateful for promises of more weapons and ammunition, but disappointed that his country had no clear timetable for joining the world’s largest security alliance.
After an evening of intrigue ahead of the summit, Sweden took a big step towards becoming NATO’s 32nd member country when Turkey signaled it would give its approval, but not until October.
The allies have also launched sweeping changes to their defense plans in the event of an attack from Russia or by terrorists. They also agreed to increase defense spending, but set no timetable for achieving the goals.
UKRAINE’S FUTURE IN NATO
NATO allies have offered more arms, ammunition and other support to Ukraine, but could not agree to the country joining their organization as a war with Russia rages on . They removed a major hurdle that most countries must clear to join – the completion of a Membership Action Plan – but membership remains conditional. “We will be able to invite Ukraine to join the alliance when the allies agree and the conditions are met,” the leaders said, without giving further details. Instead of an action plan, Ukraine will receive “multi-year programs” to bring its armed forces and security institutions up to modern standards. A new NATO-Ukraine Council has been launched, strengthening political ties and allowing all parties to convene crisis talks if necessary. Zelenskyy said it was “absurd” that Ukraine had not received any proposed deadline for membership.
SAFETY GUARANTEES FOR UKRAINE
The best guarantee of security for Ukraine would be NATO membership. But the industrialized democracies of the Group of Seven offered other assurances to deter Russia from attacking again once the war was over. If this were the case, the powers would send “rapid and sustained security assistance, modern military equipment in the land, sea and air domains, and economic assistance”. They also promised to impose more sanctions on Russia. For now and in the future, they said they would provide weapons and military equipment, including combat air power, as well as additional military training to the beleaguered Ukrainian army. Zelenskky called for these assurances to last at least until Ukraine joins NATO.
NATO PLANS TO COUNTER ANY RUSSIAN ATTACK
Leaders approved the biggest shake-up since the Cold War to how NATO would respond to any attack on its territory by Russia. Overhaul of top-secret defense plans, inspired by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, defined which of the 31 member nations would be called upon to respond to an attack anywhere in Europe and the Atlantic region North. NATO commanders will know what troops and equipment they can use and how long it will take to bring them into action. “Peace in the Euro-Atlantic area has been shattered,” the leaders said, laying out the dual threat posed by Russia and terrorism. One part of the process that hasn’t been streamlined is the need for all allies to approve the launch of new plans in the event of an attack. Political decisions in NATO require consensus and can take a long time.
SWEDEN’S ACCESSION TO NATO
Sweden has taken a big step towards joining NATO. It’s still not in, though. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan relented after Sweden promised to help Turkey join the European Union, but its biggest prize was getting new fighter jets from the United States. Biden said both developments had nothing to do with Sweden’s prospects in NATO. The agreement was reached at the summit venue the day before the official start of the meeting in Vilnius, the Lithuanian capital, in a series of talks involving Sweden, Turkey, a senior EU official and the Secretary General of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg. Erdogan has agreed to submit Sweden’s accession protocol to the Turkish parliament and work to ensure its ratification. “It’s not a NATO problem,” Stoltenberg said. “Sweden agreed today, as an EU member, to actively support efforts to relaunch Turkey’s EU accession process.”
Sending arms and ammunition to Ukraine and increasing security on NATO’s eastern flank near Russia means more defense spending. The allies have pledged to spend at least 2% of their gross domestic product on their national military budgets, and at least 20% of this amount on new military equipment, research and development. But they did not set any deadlines for achieving the goals. After Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula in 2014, the organization agreed to end post-Cold War spending cuts by member countries and move to 2% of GDP within a decade. Now this percentage will be the floor, rather than a ceiling. Getting there will be a challenge. Only 11 of the 31 member countries are expected to meet the target this year, according to NATO estimates. This is unlikely to end US demands that allies do more. Former President Donald Trump has threatened to abandon NATO countries that have failed to increase their budgets, raising serious concerns about the United States’ commitment to the collective security umbrella of the United States. alliance.