VILNIUS — Russia’s war in Ukraine will top the agenda when US President Joe Biden and his NATO counterparts hold a summit in Lithuania’s capital over two days starting on Tuesday.
They are expected to focus on ensuring that Ukraine has support as long as the conflict continues, how to bring the country even closer to NATO without actually joining, and security guarantees Kyiv might need to ensure that Russia doesn’t invade again after the war ends.
The leaders meeting in Vilnius are set to endorse new defense plans in case Russian President Vladimir Putin tries to broaden Moscow’s war beyond Ukraine and westward into allied territory. They also weigh defense spending, and how to boost their budgets as aid to Ukraine eats into national military coffers.
Sweden’s accession to the 31-nation alliance is up for discussion, too, as Turkey delays the Scandinavian country’s entry into the world’s biggest security organisation.
The biggest item on NATO’s agenda is what to do about Ukraine. US President George W. Bush led the charge in 2008, promising that Ukraine would become a member one day.
Now, the country is trying to fend off a full-scale operation by NATO’s old foe Russia. The West believes that Ukraine is standing up for its interests, and countries are pouring in billions in aid, economic and military support.
NATO isn’t ready to start membership talks with Ukraine yet. But it is helping to train and modernise its armed forces and security institutions to ensure that the country can take its place among NATO’s ranks after the war is over. The summit will see a new forum for consultations created — the NATO-Ukraine Council.