On the second and final day of the NATO summit in Vilnius and almost 18 months after the start of the Russian invasion, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky obtained new security guarantees for his country.
They aim to strengthen Ukraine’s defenses against Russia and to deter Moscow from carrying out new attacks, as they cannot yet integrate it into the Alliance, as Kiev wanted.
The second day of the NATO summit in Vilnius was marked by several announcements. The United States and its allies on Wednesday (July 12) unveiled new security guarantees for Ukraine that should help the country in the long term cope with Russia’s offensive, failing to integrate it into the Alliance at the time that Kiev wanted.
After declaring on Tuesday that Ukraine would join the Atlantic alliance once “the conditions are met” – an absence of an invitation that Volodymyr Zelensky has previously described as “absurd” – NATO leaders showed their desire to protect Ukraine from Russian invasion , as long as it was necessary.
In this sense, the G7 powers (USA, UK, France, Canada, Germany, Italy and Japan) have pledged to provide long-term military support to Ukraine. This initiative includes supplies of sophisticated military equipment, training, intelligence sharing and cyber security
In return, Ukraine, which has long pushed for quick NATO membership, has promised to improve its governance, notably through legal and economic reforms and greater transparency.
The announcement, which angered Moscow, was described as “an important victory for Ukraine’s security” by Volodymyr Zelensky.
After sharply blaming the leaders of the Alliance on Tuesday for not setting a timetable for the integration of his country in this organization, the Ukrainian leader made sure to smooth things out on the final day of the summit.
During the day, he multiplied the messages of thanks for the “enormous help” that Ukraine has received.
“Thank you very much. You, all Americans, the Congress (…) You have been with us since the first days of this war. We are very sensitive about it”, he launched on the occasion of a one-on-one with his American colleague, Joe Biden.
The Ukrainian head of state was also questioned about remarks by British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace, who stressed that his country was “not the Amazon” when it comes to supplying weapons to Ukraine, suggesting that Kiev could show more “gratitude” .
“We have always been grateful to the United Kingdom,” he replied, before wondering with a smile what the minister had meant.
Vladimir Putin was “wrong” about NATO unity
“Our support will extend far into the future. This is a powerful statement of our commitment to Ukraine,” Biden said alongside his Ukrainian counterpart and G7 colleagues.
“We will be here as long as it takes.” The head of the White House later emphasized during a speech that concluded the summit, NATO’s unity, according to him, underestimated by Vladimir Putin.
“NATO is stronger, more energized and, yes, more united than at any time in its history. More vital to our shared future. This did not happen by accident,” Joe Biden said. “When Putin, with his burning desire for conquest and power, unleashed his brutal war in Ukraine, he bet that NATO would fall apart. He meant it (…) But he was wrong”, he continued.
Joe Biden then went to Finland, a neighbor of Russia, which made a historic entry into NATO in April.
Putting aside his frustration from the previous day, Volodymyr Zelensky hailed “concrete and unprecedented support” for Ukraine and declared that he was certain at the summit that his country would join NATO. “I understood that we will be in NATO when the security situation stabilizes. In short, when the war is over, Ukraine will be invited into NATO and will clearly become a member of the Alliance. Had no other thoughts,” he wrote on Twitter.
We return home with a good result for our country, and very important for our fighters. A good reinforcement with weapons.
It is very important: for the first time since independence, we have formed a security basis for Ukraine on its way to NATO. These are… pic.twitter.com/zA0hvg7sIi
— Volodymyr Zelensky (@ZelenskyyUa) July 12, 2023 Des conditions “liées à la sécurité”
The day before, on the first day of the summit, the leaders promised to shorten the process that Kiev had to follow to join NATO. “We will be able to issue an invitation to Ukraine to join the Alliance once the Allies have decided and the conditions have been met,” reads the final communique.
But for the German chancellor, Olaf Scholz, these conditions, “laid down in NATO’s rules and known to all”, relate in particular to issues of “democracy and the rule of law”.
The final communique from the Vilnius summit does not go much further than the commitment formulated in 2008 regarding Ukraine’s future integration. The United States, the first military power, is concerned about being drawn into a possible nuclear conflict with Russia.
Western donors have already sent arms worth tens of billions of euros to Ukraine to help the country fight the Russian army.
On Tuesday, Germany said it would supply more tanks, Patriot defense missiles and armored vehicles worth an additional 700 million euros.
France has announced the dispatch of long-range Scalp missiles to Ukraine, and an 11-nation coalition has said it will begin training Ukrainian pilots on F-16 jets from next month.
AFP and Reuters