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Breaking down the NATO meeting in Vilnius: What’s on the table?

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Vilnius, located in Lithuania, is the subject of this Reuters news article. NATO leaders convened in Vilnius for a two-day meeting starting on Tuesday. The agenda encompassed various topics, including discussions on Ukraine’s membership bid and Sweden’s accession and initiatives to enhance ammunition stockpiles and evaluate defense plans that have not been reviewed for several decades.

The upcoming NATO summit will mark the fourth occurrence since the invasion of Ukraine by Russia. The initial summit occurred virtually on February 25, 2022, a mere day after the assault. Subsequent meetings were held in Brussels and Madrid NATO meeting in Vilnius.

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The recent series of meetings is remarkable compared to the previous pattern of annual NATO summits, highlighting the alliance’s response to the war in its vicinity by enhancing cooperation.

The following is a comprehensive list of the primary topics that will be addressed:

UKRAINE MEMBERSHIP

The summit’s focus is expected to revolve around NATO’s determination of its future association with Ukraine. President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has consistently urged Kyiv to be extended an invitation to join the alliance at Vilnius.

According to NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, the ongoing conflict in Kyiv will prevent its membership. As a result, the summit will not extend a formal invitation to Kyiv.

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However, a division exists among allies regarding the expeditiousness with which Ukraine should be granted membership once the conflict concludes NATO meeting in Vilnius.

Eastern European countries advocate for providing a road map to Kyiv. In contrast, the United States and Germany express caution towards any action that could potentially escalate tensions with Russia and lead to armed conflict.

Before the Vilnius summit, certain countries have proposed exempting Kyiv from the Membership Action Plan (MAP) program. This program outlines the political, economic, and military objectives that aspiring NATO candidates must fulfill, a requirement that other Eastern European nations had to satisfy before their NATO accession.

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Stoltenberg announced the submission of a comprehensive proposal encompassing the elimination of MAP. However, he refrained from explicitly confirming the assertion made by Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba in a tweet, wherein he claimed there was a unanimous agreement among allies to abandon MAP.

By implementing this action, the alliance could effectively respond to the requests for surpassing the declaration made during the Bucharest summit in 2008. The ruling stated that Ukraine would eventually become a member of the alliance but did not provide Kyiv with a concrete invitation or a specific timeline NATO meeting in Vilnius.

NATO is expected to employ stronger language than in 2008 to emphasize Kyiv’s standpoint regarding its aspiration to join the alliance.

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Leaders may reach a consensus on a statement such as “Ukraine’s appropriate position is within NATO,” which aligns with comments made by Stoltenberg during his visit to Kyiv in April. Alternatively, they may emphasize that “the security of the trans-Atlantic region would be inadequate without the inclusion of Ukraine.”

SECURITY ASSURANCES FOR UKRAINE

Leaders are anticipated to discuss the security assurances that Kyiv should receive for the post-war period. It is important to note that these assurances will be bilateral and will not be officially issued by the alliance.

It is anticipated that there will be a commitment to provide ongoing military and financial assistance to Kyiv to discourage any potential future aggression from Russia following the war’s conclusion NATO meeting in Vilnius.

Stoltenberg has emphasized that by Article 5 of the Washington Treaty, NATO will exclusively offer comprehensive security assurances to its member states.

BOLSTERING NATO’S EASTERN FLANK

The leaders are set to approve the inaugural defense plans formulated by the alliance since the conclusion of the Cold War. These plans outline NATO’s intended course of action in the event of Russian aggression.

The resurgence of the regional plans indicates a significant change in direction. In addition to providing strategic goals, the alliance offers nations comprehensive guidance on enhancing their military capabilities and logistical operations NATO meeting in Vilnius.

NATO, which previously did not prioritize extensive defense plans, has recognized the urgency to establish comprehensive preparations in light of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, the deadliest war in Europe since 1945. The organization emphasizes the necessity of having all planning measures in place well in advance to effectively address a potential conflict with a peer adversary like the Moscow NATO meeting in Vilnius.

Turkey had previously impeded the endorsement of the plans due to concerns regarding the specific phrasing related to geographical locations, including Cyprus. However, according to five diplomats who spoke to Reuters, the allies reached a consensus on this matter just one day before the summit.

NATO will increase its targets for ammunition stockpiling due to the higher rate at which Kyiv is depleting shells compared to the production capacity of Western countries NATO meeting in Vilnius.

Simultaneously, the allies will demonstrate their strategies for implementing NATO’s objective, as established during last year’s Madrid summit. This objective entails the mobilization of more than 300,000 troops, a significant increase from the previous count of 40,000, to address the threat effectively Russia poses NATO meeting in Vilnius.

SWEDEN

Sweden’s aspiration to join the alliance in Vilnius as Turkey has hindered the 32nd member. Turkey has blocked Sweden’s accession, citing allegations that Stockholm is providing shelter to members of militant groups within its borders. Turkey insists that Sweden take decisive action against these individuals before being granted membership in the NATO NATO meeting in Vilnius.

There is an expectation among allies that Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan will withdraw his opposition during the summit. However, it remains uncertain whether this anticipated change will indeed occur.

UPGRADING NATO’S 2% MILITARY SPENDING TARGET

According to two diplomats, an agreement has been reached among NATO allies to increase the alliance’s target for military spending to a minimum of 2% of their respective national GDP.

According to two diplomats, the 31 allies have agreed to make an enduring commitment to allocate a minimum of 2% of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) towards their respective military expenditures in the coming years.

Stoltenberg initially proposed elevating NATO’s previous military spending target of 2% of national GDP from a goal to a mandatory minimum requirement.

According to estimates from NATO, by the year 2023, only 11 out of the 31 members of the alliance will be able to meet the old target. The objective was established in 2014 when NATO leaders agreed to enhance defense expenditure to 2% of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) within ten years.

The 11 allies include the United States, Britain, Poland, Greece, Estonia, Lithuania, Finland, Romania, Hungary, Latvia, and Slovakia.

Canada, Slovenia, Turkey, Spain, Belgium, and Luxembourg are positioned at the end of the list regarding defense spending, as their respective expenditures accounted for less than 1.4% of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

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