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Jul 10, 2023, 6:44am EDT
securityEurope

What to know about the NATO summit in Lithuania

Officials attend a flag-raising ceremony for Finland's accession during NATO foreign ministers' meeting at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, 04 April 2023. Finland becomes the 31st member of the Alliance on 04 April. OLIVIER MATTHYS/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo
OLIVIER MATTHYS/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo
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The News

NATO’s annual summit will begin Tuesday in Vilnius, Lithuania, where questions about Sweden and Ukraine’s bids for membership are set for discussion.

We’ve collated key analysis you should read on the criticial conversations taking place at the meeting.

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Insights

  • Joining NATO isn’t just a security decision for Ukraine. Membership would allow the country to become a de facto member of “the West,” offering a way out of centuries of Russian subjugation. In 2008, the defense bloc agreed Ukraine and Georgia would eventually join the alliance, but no timeline was given. Now, NATO members must decide what that membership looks like. — Financial Times
  • There are fears that an entrance into NATO could make Ukraine’s security situation more tenuous. After Georgia was offered eventual membership in 2008, Russia invaded the country, and still occupies South Ossetia and Abkhazia. In 2014, Moscow invaded and later annexed Ukraine’s Crimea. Since NATO membership requires that there are no ongoing disputes, Russia has made it effectively impossible for the countries to join. “Only accession to NATO will provide Ukraine the security it needs to deter Russian President Vladimir Putin from trying to incorporate it into Russia or turn it into a puppet buffer state like Belarus,” John R. Deni, a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, has argued. — Foreign Policy
  • Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan may change his mind on blocking Sweden as the summit kicks off, but Dov Zakheim, a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, thinks that is unlikely. Erdoğan has continued to hold firm against the country’s membership, despite some analysts’ belief that he would ease his opinion after Turkey’s general election. Sweden will eventually join the alliance, Zakheim says — but probably in a few months time, and not in Lithuania this week. — The Hill
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Know More

Sweden, which applied for NATO membership more than a year ago, faces holdout accession votes from Hungary and Turkey, which has raised issues with what it views as the country’s lax attitude towards separatist groups Ankara labels as terrorist organizations.

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Ukraine, meanwhile, is vying for a position within the defense alliance, in the face of Russia’s full-scale invasion a year and a half ago. Ukraine has long sought NATO membership, and hopes to see member countries commit to further weapons provisions for its defense.

The U.S. has said that Kyiv is not yet ready for full membership in the bloc, with President Joe Biden telling CNN that Russia’s war must end before any such consideration.

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