NATO and the G7 flex their muscles although leaders let down Zelenskyy in Lithuania

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Following two days of intense debate and bilateral talks in Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, leaders of the 31 member states that comprise NATO, the world’s biggest military alliance, reached resolutions, namely endorsing Sweden’s NATO participation, and not Ukraine’s although they committed to provide the war-torn nation with enhanced security and equipment.

The summit received a boost when Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan unexpectedly withdrew his opposition to Sweden’s NATO membership. Sweden will therefore officially become NATO’s 32nd member.

Erdogan had initially threatened to peg support for Sweden’s bid to join the NATO alliance to Turkey’s bid for entry into the European Union, a 50-year-old request that has been testing Turkey’s patience and arguably forced the increasingly strategic country to look East rather than West for alliances.

While Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelenskyy was invited to the meeting as an “equal”, Ukraine’s invitation to become a member of NATO was not extended this round, nor was a timeline given, leading the President of Ukraine to say that he hoped he would return to the table as “an ally” next time.

In a Twitter post, Zelenskyy expressed his criticism towards NATO leaders prior to his arrival, stating that it was “unprecedented and absurd” for neither the invitation nor Ukraine’s membership to have a specified timeframe.

Eastern European members of NATO have expressed their support for Kyiv’s request, asserting that incorporating Ukraine into NATO’s security framework is the most effective means of deterring Russia from launching another attack but countries like the United States and Germany have exercised greater caution, concerned about any actions that could potentially involve NATO in a direct confrontation with Russia.

NATO leaders did not confirm a timeline although they made it clear they would not want to extend the invitation until the war with Russia has ended. “We reaffirm the commitment we made at the 2008 Summit in Bucharest that Ukraine will become a member of NATO, and today we recognise that Ukraine’s path to full Euro-Atlantic integration has moved beyond the need for the Membership Action Plan” the military alliance said in a released statement.

Berlin committed to an additional $771 million in military aid to support Kyiv. The newly offered assistance comprises 25 Leopard 1 tanks, two launchers for the Patriot missile system, and an additional 40 Marder infantry fighting vehicles.

Denmark and the Netherlands revealed that an 11-nation coalition will commence training Ukrainian pilots to operate F-16 fighter jets starting next month. A new training facility will be established in Romania to this effect.

President Emmanuel Macron also declared that France would join the United Kingdom in supplying long-range SCALP (Storm Shadow) cruise missiles, enabling Ukraine to strike deep into Russian territories located far beyond the front lines.

Last but not least, as announced by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz earlier in the military alliance’s meeting in Vilnius, the G7, a group of influential industrialized nations, weighed in in support of Ukraine, releasing a statement outlining long-term assistance to be activated once “peace is achieved”.

While the show of support towards Ukraine from the world’s richest democratic countries came in thick and hard, questions regarding the G7’s support arose as to whether they complement, strengthen or lessen NATO’s support or merely distract from their falling short of Zelenskyy’s most prized goal – an invitation.

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