G7 to announce 'long term' security package for Ukraine at NATO summit

G7 to announce 'long term' security package for Ukraine at NATO summit

July 12, 2023

G7 nations will announce ‘long term’ security package for Ukraine at NATO summit – after Zelensky slammed ‘absurd’ lack of timetable for Kyiv to join alliance

  • The security package is expected to be announced in Vilnius, Lithuania, today
  • But NATO refused to offer Ukraine a timeline to join the bloc, angering Zelensky

A ‘long term’ security package for Ukraine will be announced by G7 countries at today’s NATO summit – but the security bloc has refused to offer Kyiv membership, or even a timeframe for entry.

In a statement echoed by the White House, Downing Street said: ‘The joint declaration, expected to be signed by all members of the G7, will set out how allies will support Ukraine over the coming years to end the war and deter and respond to any future attack.’

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak added: ‘As Ukraine makes strategic progress in their counteroffensive, and the degradation of Russian forces begins to infect Putin’s front line, we are stepping up our formal arrangements to protect Ukraine for the long term.’

NATO leaders also announced the creation of the ‘NATO-Ukraine Council’, a permanent body where the 31 allies and Kyiv can hold consultations in emergency situations. 

The setting is part of NATO’s effort to bring Ukraine as close as possible to the military alliance without actually joining it.

But Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky blew up the professions of unity at the summit in Vilnius, blasting allies for failing to set a firm timeline for his country to join the alliance.

The joint declaration on an ‘international framework’ to help ‘end the war’ in Ukraine will be signed by all G7 countries and announced at the NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, today (British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak (L) speaks with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken)

A frustrated Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky looks on prior to a bilateral meeting with the German chancellor and delegation on the sidelines of the NATO Summit in Vilnius on July 12, 2023

US President Joe Biden (R) and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg (L) attend the first day session of NATO Heads of State and Government Summit at the Lithuanian Exhibition and Congress Centre (LITEXPO) in Vilnius, Lithuania on July 11, 2023

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz (R) looks on next to French President Emmanuel Macron as they attend a meeting of the North Atlantic Council (NAC) with Asia Pacific Partners during the NATO Summit in Vilnius on July 12, 2023

Britain’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, left, and Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky, right, talk during a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the NATO Summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, Wednesday, July 12, 2023

On Tuesday, the leaders said in their communique summarizing the summit’s conclusions that Ukraine can join ‘when allies agree and conditions are met.’

The ambiguous outcome reflects the challenges of reaching consensus among the alliance’s current members while the war continues – and leaves Zelensky sorely disappointed. 

The Ukrainian president on Tuesday was sharply critical of what he described as NATO’s ‘unprecedented and absurd’ reluctance to set a timeline for his country’s acceptance into the alliance.

‘Vague wording about ”conditions” is added even for inviting Ukraine,’ Zelensky said.

‘This means that a window of opportunity is being left to bargain Ukraine’s membership in NATO in negotiations with Russia. And for Russia, this means motivation to continue its terror.’

READ MORE: SHOULD Ukraine join NATO? Experts explain why granting the war-torn nation could restore peace to Europe… or prompt Putin to hit Kyiv with a tactical nuke

In essence, Western countries are willing to keep sending weapons to help Ukraine do the job that NATO was designed to do – hold the line against a Russian invasion – but not allow Ukraine to join its ranks and benefit from its security during the war.

Zelensky said he had faith in NATO, but that he would ‘like this faith to become confidence, confidence in the decisions that we deserve, all of us, every soldier, every citizen, every mother, every child.’

‘Is that too much to ask?’ he added.

This morning, he cut a more reconciliatory tone, thanking Western counterparts for their continued commitment to providing military aid to Ukraine, but said he would push to ensure Ukraine ‘will have this invitation [to NATO] when security measures will allow.’

‘We want to be on the same page with everybody,’ he told reporters at the summit. 

Ukraine’s future membership was unquestionably the most divisive and emotionally charged issue at this year’s summit, with leaders clearly disagreeing over the level of support offered to Ukraine.

‘We have to stay outside of this war but be able to support Ukraine. We managed that very delicate balancing act for the last 17 months. It’s to the benefit of everyone that we maintain that balancing act,’ Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said Wednesday.

But Latvian Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins, whose country lies on NATO’s eastern flank and has a long, troubled history with Russia, said he would have preferred more for Ukraine.

‘There will always be a difference of flavour of how fast you would want to go,’ he said. However, Karins added, ‘at the end of it, what everyone gets, including Ukraine, and what Moscow sees is we are all very united.’

Amanda Sloat, senior director of European affairs for the U.S. National Security Council, defended the summit’s decisions.

‘I would agree that the communique is unprecedented, but I see that in a positive way,’ she told reporters on Wednesday. 

Sloat noted that Ukraine will not need to submit a ‘membership action plan’ as it seeks to join NATO – a key step in the process that involves advice and assistance for countries seeking to join – but added ‘there are still governance and security sector reforms that are going to be required’ in Ukraine.

Symbols of support for Ukraine are common around Vilnius, where the country’s blue-and-yellow flags hang from buildings and are pasted inside windows.

But there has been more caution inside the summit itself, especially from Biden, who has explicitly said he doesn’t think Ukraine is ready to join NATO. There are concerns that the country’s democracy is unstable and its corruption remains too deeply rooted.

Under Article 5 of the NATO charter, members are obligated to defend each other from attack, which could swiftly draw the U.S. and other nations into direct fighting with Russia.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky holds a document during a bilateral meeting with the German Chancellor on the sidelines of the NATO Summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, on July 12, 2023

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky (L) and his wife Olena Zelenska react next to France’s President Emmanuel Macron and French President’s wife Brigitte Macron ahead of the social dinner during the NATO summit, at the Presidential Palace in Vilnius on July 11, 2023

‘Abusrd’: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky issued a statement blasting NATO for refusing to commit to a timeline for his country joining. President Biden said days earlier Ukraine wasn’t ‘ready’ to join

The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, arrives for a second day of the NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, 12 July 2023

Russia’s war in Ukraine – and the prospect of the war-torn nation joining the security alliance – will be at the top of the agenda at the NATO summit today

Sunak said in a statement that supporting Ukraine’s ‘progress on the pathway to NATO membership, coupled with formal, multilateral, and bilateral agreements and the overwhelming support of NATO members will send a strong signal to President Putin and return peace to Europe.’

And Sloat said the commitments will show Russia ‘that time is not on its side.’

Although international summits are often tightly scripted, this one has seesawed between conflict and compromise.

At first leaders appeared to be deadlocked over Sweden’s bid for membership in the alliance. However, Turkey unexpectedly agreed to drop its objections on Monday, the night before the summit formally began. The deal led to boasts of success from leaders who were eager for a display of solidarity in Vilnius.

‘This summit is already historic before it has started,’ NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said.

Erdogan has not commented publicly on the deal, over Sweden’s membership, even during a Tuesday meeting with Biden where Biden referenced ‘the agreement you reached yesterday.’

However, Erdogan appeared eager to develop his relationship with Biden.

The Turkish president has been seeking advanced American fighter jets and a path toward membership in the European Union. The White House has expressed support for both, but publicly insisted that the issues were not related to Sweden’s membership in NATO.

As NATO leaders gathered in Vilnius yesterday, Ukraine’s armed forces said they were forced to repel a Russian drone attack. 

The Ukrainian Air Force said: ‘A total of 15 kamikaze drones were involved in the strike. 

‘Eleven of them were destroyed in the areas of responsibility of the Centre and East air commands.’

The statement did not say if other drones were shot down in other parts of Ukraine.

But governor of Cherkasy region in central Ukraine Igor Taburets said two people were hospitalised with burns after a drone hit a non-residential building, sparking a fire.

He said: ‘Cherkasy was on alert for more than three and a half hours.’

Kyiv military authorities said there was also a drone attack on the capital but did not say how many drones were involved.

The Ukrainian military said on Tuesday it had downed a total of 26 Russian attack drones in the latest barrage.

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