Stoltenberg: At NATO summit in Vilnius, issue of inviting Ukraine to membership not to be discussed, but issue of how to bring Kyiv closer to alliance
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg says that at the NATO summit to be held July 11 and 12 in Vilnius, the issue of inviting Ukraine to membership will not be discussed, but the question of how to bring Ukraine closer to the alliance will be considered.
He said this at a press conference that took place at the end of the meeting of defense ministers of NATO member states in Brussels on Friday, answering a question from journalists about the prospect of Ukraine's membership in NATO.
Stoltenberg said there are "three elements" in this issue. "First of all, we agreed that Ukraine will become a member of the Alliance. We will not discuss the invitation at the Vilnius summit, but (we will discuss how) we are bringing Ukraine closer to NATO. I am confident that we will find a good solution at the Vilnius summit," he said. Moreover, the Secretary General attributed this justification to the third element. First and second, he named, respectively, the practical and political aspects of the issue of future membership.
"One (element) is to move Ukraine closer to NATO in practical terms, and this is an all-encompassing assistance package and a multi-year program that will help them move from Soviet-era doctrines to NATO standards doctrine and equipment, to achieve full interoperability with NATO. That takes time. We have been working on this for many years, but the more we succeed in making Ukrainian forces fully interoperable with NATO, the closer they come to NATO in practical military terms," Stoltenberg said about the first element.
The second he called the political path. "And here we are now very close to finalizing the agreement to establish the NATO-Ukraine Council, that will be something different from the Commission, where 31 allies meet Ukraine. This will be a body of 32: 31 allies and Ukraine equal sitting at the table with the same rights and the same possibilities to consult and make decisions together, if we find that there are things to do. That is a different type of working together politically, and we will bring Ukraine closer to NATO in political terms," the Secretary General said.