NATO Agrees To Strong Package To Bring Ukraine Closer To Alliance

NATO has agreed to bring Ukraine closer to the alliance, and reinforce its collective deterrence and defense.

In their first working session at the Vilnius Summit, the leaders of the 31-member defense group agreed to a package of three elements bringing Ukraine closer to NATO. This includes a new multi-year assistance program to facilitate the transition of the Ukrainian armed forces from Soviet-era to NATO standards and help rebuild Ukraine’s security and defense sector, covering critical needs like fuel, demining equipment, and medical supplies.

Allies also agreed to establish the new NATO-Ukraine Council, which will hold its inaugural meeting in Vilnius on Wednesday with the participation of President Zelenskyy. Allies also reaffirmed that Ukraine will become a member of NATO, and agreed to remove the requirement for a Membership Action Plan. “This is a strong package for Ukraine, and a clear path towards its membership in NATO,” said Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg during a news conference with Zelenskyy.

He told reporters that the accession process is being shortened, and Ukraine “will become a member”.

But the Ukraine President harshly criticized NATO for not mentioning Ukraine’s membership timeline.

Allies also adopted “the most comprehensive defense plans since the end of the Cold War,” according to Stoltenberg. 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 Defense Production Action Plan to accelerate joint procurement, boost production capacity and enhance Allies’ interoperability.

To meet their defense needs, Allies decided to invest a minimum of 2 percent of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in defense.

Stoltenberg said that the leaders also discussed the challenges that a “coercive” China poses to Euro-Atlantic security and values. While noting that “China is not our adversary”, the NATO chief stressed that “Beijing’s increasing assertiveness affects our security” and challenges the rules-based international order.

On Wednesday, the concluding day of the NATO summit, Allies will meet the leaders of Australia, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea, as well as the European Union.

Meanwhile, U.S. President Joe Biden is scheduled to meet with his Ukrainian counterpart on the sidelines of the NATO summit at 8:45 AM ET.

Later in the day, Biden will deliver remarks highlighting how the United States, alongside its allies and partners, are supporting Ukraine, defending democratic values, and taking action to address global challenges, the White House said.

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