2023 NATO Summit: Challenges Including Possible Ukraine Membership

The current challenge comes at a time when Mr. Biden and he are investing heavily in demonstrating harmony.

WASHINGTON — As Russia’s aggression against Ukraine continues with no end in sight, NATO’s much-lauded unity faces renewed tension as it gathers at its annual summit in Vilnius, Lithuania this week.

The world’s largest security alliance struggles to reach a deal admit sweden As the 32nd member. Member States’ military spending has fallen short of long-standing targets. Unable to compromise on who will be NATO’s next leader forced to extend Extend the current term of office of the Secretary-General for an additional year.

Perhaps the most difficult question is how Ukraine should be eased into NATO. Some continue to concede that it will be a necessary step for Ukraine to deliver on promises made many years ago and to deter Russian aggression in Eastern Europe. Others fear this will be seen as a provocation that could escalate into a wider conflict.

“I don’t think we’re ready to join NATO,” President Joe Biden told CNN in an interview aired Sunday. He said countries must “fulfill all the qualifications, from democratization to everything else” to join NATO.

He said the U.S. should provide Ukraine with long-term security assistance, “the ability to defend itself,” similar to what it does to Israel.

Quarrels between friends are not uncommon, and the current catalog of disputes pales in comparison to concerns of the past. Donald Trump will turn his back on the alliance during his presidency. But at a time when Mr. Biden and his colleagues are investing heavily in demonstrating harmony among lawmakers, there are current challenges.

“Any rift or lack of unity presents an opportunity for those who oppose the alliance,” said Douglas Lute, who served as US ambassador to NATO under President Barack Obama.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is keen to capitalize on divisions as he struggles to establish himself in Ukraine and faces political challenges at home, including: aftermath of a brief rebellion by Wagner Mercenaries.

“You don’t want to be seen,” Lute said. “I don’t want to show any gaps or seams.”

In some ways, the Ukraine War revitalized NATO, which had been set up as a bulwark against Moscow in the early days of the Cold War. NATO member countries poured munitions into Ukraine To help fight back, Finland ended its history of non-alignment. 31st member of NATO.

“I think it’s appropriate to consider all successes,” Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky told The Associated Press. “So I think this aggression has strengthened NATO. It was exactly the opposite of what Putin expected.”

He cited Germany’s shift to a stronger defense policy and increased military spending in other countries.

The latest test of NATO cohesion took place on Friday, and Mr Biden said he was able to make a “tough decision”. cluster bomb to Ukraine. More than two-thirds of allied member states have banned the weapon. achievement It caused many civilian casualties. The more than 120 countries that have not signed a treaty outlawing the use of bombs do not include the United States, Russia or Ukraine.

Regarding Ukraine’s possible NATO membership, the alliance announced in 2008 that Kiev would eventually join. Since then, little action has been taken towards that goal. Putin occupied parts of Ukraine in 2014 and tried to invade and capture the capital in 2022.

“The gray zone is a green light for Putin,” said Daniel Fried, a former U.S. ambassador to Poland and now a Distinguished Fellow of the Atlantic Council.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has sent a unified signal from NATO to Ukraine, calling for his country to join the alliance.

Asked if he would come to Vilnius, Zelensky said in an interview with ABC through an interpreter, “I think it’s an important message to be able to say that NATO is not afraid of Russia.” “Ukraine needs to get a clear security while it is not in NATO. And that is a very important point. Otherwise it’s just politics.”

The US and Germany argue that the focus should be on supplying Ukraine with arms and ammunition, rather than taking the more provocative step of inviting it to join NATO. NATO eastern bloc countries (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland) want stronger guarantees of future membership.

NATO may decide to strengthen its ties with Ukraine by creating an organization known as the NATO-Ukraine Council and giving Kiev a seat at the negotiating table.

Vilnius will also draw attention to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is the main obstacle to Sweden’s attempt to join NATO alongside neighboring Finland.

Erdogan has accused Sweden of being too lenient on anti-Islamic protesters and Kurdish extremist groups that have been waging a long-running uprising in Turkey.

Sweden recently amended its anti-terrorism law and lifted its arms embargo on Turkey.but the man burned the Koran outside the mosque Meeting in Stockholm last week, Erdogan suggested this would be another hurdle. He equated “those who authorized the crime” with those who carried it out.

Turkey and the United States have also stalled over sales of F-16 fighter jets. Erdogan wants improved aircraft, but Biden says Sweden’s NATO membership needs to be resolved first. In an interview with The Associated Press, McConnell said he would support selling fighter planes to Turkey “if Sweden’s membership is settled.”

This is not the first time President Erdogan has attempted to use a NATO summit to benefit Turkey. In 2009, he put on hold the nomination of Anders Vog Rasmussen as secretary-general, but agreed to the move after securing several senior posts for Turkish officials in the alliance.

Max Bergmann, a former State Department official and head of the European program at the Institute for Strategic and International Studies, said growing concerns about Erdogan’s relationship with Putin, democratic setbacks and sanctions evasion have led to dissatisfaction with Erdogan among allies. said to be on the rise.

“They’ve been trying to play well. The question is whether it’s time for more confrontation,” Bergman said.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has also delayed approval of Sweden’s membership. In response, Idaho Senator Jim Rish, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is blocking a $735 million arms sale from the United States to Hungary.

“We do not want member states that are not interested in doing everything possible to strengthen the alliance rather than in the pursuit of their own or personal interests,” said Risch. “had enough of this.”

But he dismissed the notion that these disagreements were a sign of weakness within NATO.

“These things happen all the time in alliances. are proving,” he said. world history. ”

At least one potentially difficult issue is off the Summit agenda. Rather than seek agreement on a new NATO leader, member states have agreed to extend the tenure of Jens Stoltenberg, who has held the position since 2014, for one year. This is the fourth extension.

Most member states wanted a woman for the next secretary-general, with Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen being viewed as a favorite. However, Poland insisted on a candidate from the Baltics, as it already had two Scandinavian secretaries-general in a row. (Stoltenberg was Prime Minister of Norway and Rasmussen was Prime Minister of Denmark.)

Baltic leaders tend to be more provocative in their approach to Russia, including supporting Ukraine’s desire to join NATO quickly, making them skeptical of accepting candidates from the Baltics. There is another way of looking at it.

Further disagreements loom over NATO The latest plan to counter any aggression Russia could launch an attack on allied territory.

https://www.wfaa.com/article/news/nation-world/nato-unity-will-be-tested-at-upcoming-summit/507-86c2bf5b-544d-4beb-8208-aa10842f1656 2023 NATO Summit: Challenges Including Possible Ukraine Membership

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