The leaders of the member countries of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) will reaffirm at a summit in Vilnius their intention to eventually integrate Ukraine into the Alliance, but the exact wording of this commitment , which meets high expectations from Kiev, is the subject of intense negotiations.
“For 500 days, Moscow has been sowing death and destruction in the heart of Europe, trying to destroy Ukraine and divide NATO,” Alliance Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Friday. ” The top […] will send a clear message: NATO is united and Russia’s aggression will not pay”.
“I expect our leaders to reaffirm that Ukraine will become a member of NATO and to unite on how to bring Ukraine closer to its goal,” he continued.
Jens Stoltenberg did not want to venture on the exact terms of this message which will be sent to kyiv during the summit on July 11 and 12 in Vilnius. This crucial point has been at the heart of discussions for months between the 31 members of the Atlantic Alliance.
“We are in the process of consulting and working on the exact wording [qui] will be made public when we have agreed”, he cautiously commented.
“But I am confident that we will have a clear message,” added the Norwegian, who was reappointed Tuesday at the head of this military alliance until October 2024.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, expected at the summit, asks NATO for concrete commitments on a prospect of membership once the war started by Russia is over.
While Eastern European countries support Kiev’s request, the United States and Germany are reluctant to go beyond the promise made in 2008 that Ukraine would become a NATO member day.
” Courage “
The Ukrainian leader called for “honesty” on Thursday. It is time to demonstrate “the courage and strength of this alliance”, he said, adding that it was not “enough” to say that “the door is open” to Ukraine.
At the Vilnius summit will be held the first meeting of the new NATO-Ukraine council, intended to strengthen ties with kyiv.
The 31 members of NATO have also pledged to devote 500 million euros to a multiannual program intended to bring Ukraine closer to the standards of the Alliance.
The NATO Secretary General stressed that the “most urgent task” was to “support Ukraine for as long as necessary”. “That’s why the allies are stepping up their military aid,” he said.
Volodymyr Zelensky is due to meet his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan early Friday evening in Istanbul, the final leg of his international tour to secure more Western weapons and Allied support for Ukraine’s NATO membership.
Before its invasion of Ukraine, Russia had issued as a red line the integration of its neighbor into the alliance, which the Kremlin considers a threat to its sovereignty. Its offensive against its neighbor has already convinced Finland and Sweden to join NATO.
Finland, which in April became the 31e member of this military alliance, will take part in a NATO summit for the first time. Sweden’s candidacy is blocked by Turkey. A meeting is scheduled for Monday on the eve of the summit between Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson to try to resolve the situation.
NATO countries must also strengthen their defense spending target at the summit, by setting a minimum of 2% of GDP. They made a commitment ten years ago to strive towards this objective.
“Only three allies then devoted 2% of their GDP to defence. This year, 11 allies meet or exceed this target,” said Jens Stoltenberg.