19 Jun 2023 16:05

Invitation for Ukraine to NATO not to be discussed at Vilnius summit - Stoltenberg

MOSCOW. June 19 (Interfax) - The participants in NATO's July 11-12 summit in Vilnius will not discuss a possible invitation for Ukraine to join NATO, but will discuss steps aimed at bringing Ukraine closer to the alliance, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said.

Stoltenberg made this statement at a press conference in Brussels on Friday following a meeting of NATO countries' defense ministers.

"We are not going to discuss an invitation at the Vilnius summit, but how we can move Ukraine closer to NATO. I am confident that we will find at good solution and consensus at the Vilnius summit on how to be able to move Ukraine close to NATO," he said.

"One [element] is to move Ukraine closer [to NATO] in practical terms. That's the comprehensive assistance package, but not least the multi-year program to help them move from Soviet-era standards, doctrines, equipment to NATO standards, doctrines and equipment and to be fully interoperable with NATO. That'll take time. We've actually worked on that for many years, but the more we succeed in making Ukrainian forces fully interoperable with NATO, the closer they come to NATO in practical terms," he said.

The other path is political, Stoltenberg said.

"There we're now very close to finalizing the agreement to establish the NATO-Ukraine Council, and that will be something different than the commission, where 31 allies meet Ukraine. That will be the body of 32: 31 allies and Ukraine equally sitting at the table with the same rights and the same possibilities to consult and to make decisions together if we find that the right thing to do. And we will bring Ukraine closer to NATO in political terms," the NATO secretary general said.