Nato Allies agreed on July 11 to a package of three elements bringing Ukraine closer to Nato, with what Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg described as a “clear path” towards Ukraine’s membership of Nato.
According to a Nato media statement, the package, agreed to at the Alliance’s summit in Vilnius, includes a new multi-year assistance programme to facilitate the transition of the Ukrainian armed forces from Soviet-era to Nato standards and help rebuild Ukraine’s security and defence sector, covering critical needs like fuel, demining equipment, and medical supplies.
The Nato Allies also agreed to establish the new Nato-Ukraine Council, which will hold its inaugural meeting in Vilnius on Wednesday with the participation of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
“Allies also reaffirmed that Ukraine will become a member of Nato, and agreed to remove the requirement for a Membership Action Plan,” the statement said.
Stoltenberg said: “This is a strong package for Ukraine, and a clear path towards its membership in Nato”.
At a news conference on the evening of July 11, Stoltenberg emphasised that Nato had removed the road map requirement for Ukraine, which he described as transforming the two-step process towards membership as, in the case of Ukraine, becoming a one-step process.
Allies adopted “the most comprehensive defence plans since the end of the Cold War,” Stoltenberg said.
Designed to counter the Alliance’s two main threats – Russia and terrorism – the new regional plans provide for 300 000 troops at high readiness, including substantial air and naval combat power.
The summit also approved a new Defence Production Action Plan to accelerate joint procurement, boost production capacity and enhance Allies’ interoperability.
To meet their defence needs, the Nato Allies made an enduring commitment to invest a minimum of two per cent of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in defence.
European Allies and Canada recorded an 8.3 per cent real terms increase in their defence budgets in 2023, the largest increase in decades. Eleven Allies meet or exceed the benchmark this year, and this number is expected to grow substantially in 2024.
On Twitter, Zelenskyy said: “Here in Vilnius , we see the progress of Europe.
“People here know what security is and how to achieve it. And they know that security means being together with Ukraine. I am grateful to you, Vilnius, and to all Lithuanian cities and communities for every call in support of Ukraine, for sheltering our people who have taken refuge in Lithuania from hostilities… Thank you! Thank you for your help to our defense and for your clear, honest and courageous position on inviting Ukraine to Nato.”
In a separate tweet, Zelenskyy said: “Today I embarked on a trip here with faith in decisions, with faith in partners, with faith in a strong Nato. In a Nato that does not hesitate, does not waste time and does not look back at any aggressor… And I would like this faith to become confidence – confidence in the decisions that we deserve – all of us deserve, and every warrior, every citizen, every mother, every child expects.
“And is that too much to expect? Nato will give Ukraine security.
“Ukraine will make the Alliance stronger. Šlovė Ukrainai, Šlovė Lietuvai!” Zelenskyy said.
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