Understand instantly
  • The meeting will consist of two working sessions
  • The Ukraine vector remains important
  • The meeting was overshadowed by a generally negative backdrop
Jens Stoltenberg
The NATO summit taking place today will be the last for current Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. NATO

The meeting will consist of two working sessions

The traditional North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) summit is held in Washington DC. The summit will take place on 9-11 July. The event coincides with the 75th anniversary of the alliance and focuses on "Ukraine and Transatlantic Security"[1].

The summit brings together the leaders of the bloc's 32 member states. It will be the first summit for Sweden and the second for Finland, which joined the alliance in response to Russia's aggression against Ukraine in February 2022.

Traditionally, the event welcomes representatives from outside the bloc, such as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, and representatives from Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Moldova, Australia, Japan, New Zealand, and South Korea.

The first session will focus on the Alliance's combat readiness in the face of any threat. A year ago, large-scale defense plans were agreed upon, something NATO has not done for more than 30 years. According to Reuters, the aim is to defend against Russia, for which the alliance needs 35 to 50 additional combat brigades, and strengthening air defense.

The second session will focus on China, whose growing influence is of particular concern to the United States. In addition to the two sessions, the Forum will host several related events, including bilateral policy meetings.

"At the summit in Washington, we will once again demonstrate NATO's unity and strength in support of Ukraine and the security of all our people and values," said NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, for whom this will be the last meeting[2].
He is due to be replaced in October by former Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte.

The Ukraine vector remains important

As expected, a large part of the event will be devoted to discussing the continuation of NATO support to Ukraine, especially military support. During the meeting, the parties may announce new arms deliveries and funding - an agreement has already been reached on a $40 billion deal with the EU. The EU has also agreed on a new agreement to provide USD 40 billion per year - deepening cooperation in the training of Ukraine's armed forces. The training and equipping of Ukrainian troops will be overseen by the new Alliance headquarters in Germany. In addition, the bloc's coordination role in the transfer of arms and ammunition to Kyiv will be strengthened[3].

According to Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine expects decisions from the meeting on how to strengthen the Republic's defense capabilities, including in the field of air defense, and significant steps towards the country's membership in the Alliance. In an interview with Bloomberg TV, Mr. Zelensky said he wanted to receive something like an invitation to join the bloc.

Ukraine has been pushing for NATO membership for the last few years. Last year, at the Alliance summit in Vilnius, the countries were unable to set a clear deadline for Kyiv's accession to the bloc, something that did not please the publicly vocal V. Zelenskyy. Nevertheless, the organization’s position is unlikely to change.

On the eve of the summit, the White House pointed out that Ukraine's inclusion in NATO requires political will from NATO members, which is currently lacking. Polish President Andrzej Duda admitted that there is no unity in the bloc on the issue of Kyiv's admission.

"Such decisions have to be taken to make Ukraine's path to NATO irreversible, so that Ukraine is a country which, after all the steps taken by the Alliance, has decided on its own whether it wants to join NATO following the wishes of the country's society," the Polish leader stressed.

The meeting was overshadowed by a generally negative backdrop

The Alliance approaches the anniversary summit in a state of ambivalence. As The Washington Post reported, the leaders of the participating countries are gathering in Washington at a time of great uncertainty in the West[4].

"The participating heads of state will seek to demonstrate their collective resolve and strength. But there is a clear sense of vulnerability and anxiety in the debate, caused by the rise of populist, far-right groups around the world," the article says.

The problems are evident among the bloc's key leaders. In particular, Joe Biden, President of the United States, who is preparing for the meeting, has faced declining popularity and speculation about his ineffectiveness. In addition, his own Democratic Party and its supporters are saying that the politician should abandon his plans to seek re-election in November. In contrast, Biden's rival, former American leader Donald Trump, is gaining in popularity.

The populist Republican has repeatedly expressed his disloyalty to NATO and Europe during his presidency, threatening to leave the alliance because of the unwillingness of all members to spend 2% of GDP on defense. The threat of Trump's return to power is considered quite real by the Western media, who do not rule out the possibility of a reduction in the US commitment to its members. Politico even suggested that the politician could close Ukraine's path to the alliance to resolve the conflict with Russia[5].

Adding fuel to the fire is the crisis in the German and French leadership that followed the European Parliament (EP) elections in the summer. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and the ruling coalition lost the vote to the opposition CDU/CSU alliance and the far-right Alternative for Germany. French President Emmanuel Macron and his Renaissance party lost the European Parliament elections to the far-right National Rally and then to the left-wing New People's Front alliance in an early vote in Parliament.

The traditional attempt to show NATO unity in the face of all challenges is undermined by the lack of full coordination among the countries of the Alliance. For example, Ankara and Budapest are openly increasing their cooperation with Moscow and Beijing - the bloc's direct adversaries. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban visited Russia and China before the summit in Washington in support of peacekeeping efforts to resolve the conflict in Ukraine, which the alliance did not support and promised to discuss at the summit. Officially, the bloc promises to help Kyiv until "victory" and not to insist on dialogue with Moscow to find a diplomatic solution.