Wrapping up the Summit in Vilnius on Wednesday (12 July 2023), Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg welcomed that NATO leaders took major decisions to adapt the Alliance for the future.
Allies agreed NATO’s most detailed and robust defence plans since the Cold War, strengthened their commitment to defence investment, agreed to bring Ukraine closer to NATO, and deepened partnerships around the world.
Stoltenberg chaired the inaugural meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Council on Wednesday, where Allies were joined by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. The Secretary General underlined that from now on, NATO and Ukraine will meet in the Council “to discuss and decide as equals”. He also welcomed that Allies have agreed a new multi-year assistance package to help transition Ukraine from Soviet-era to NATO equipment and standards, and make their forces fully interoperable with NATO. Stoltenberg further welcomed the new announcements of support by several Allies.
At the Summit, Allies also reaffirmed that Ukraine will become a member of NATO, and agreed to remove the requirement for a Membership Action Plan. “This will change Ukraine’s membership path from a two-step process to a one-step process,” said Stoltenberg. “We will issue an invitation for Ukraine to join NATO when Allies agree that conditions are met.” He added that Ukraine is now “closer to NATO than ever before”.
The Secretary General stressed that Allies must ensure that when this war ends, there are credible arrangements in place for Ukraine’s security. He welcomed that many Allies have now committed to providing long-term security assistance to Ukraine.
Earlier on Wednesday, Stoltenberg chaired a meeting of Allies with the leaders of Australia, Japan, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea and the European Union. He said that “NATO is a regional Alliance, but we face global challenges”. The Secretary General said that Beijing’s global assertiveness and Moscow’s war against Ukraine require even closer coordination between NATO, the EU and Indo-Pacific partners, and that they will work even more closely together, standing strong for the rules-based international order.
In closing, Stoltenberg said that “NATO is more united than ever” and thanked President Nausėda, the Lithuanian government and the people of Vilnius for hosting this historic Summit. NATO’s next Summit will take place in Washington, D.C. in 2024, marking seventy-five years since the Alliance’s founding.