NATO leaders jointly affirm ‘Ukraine’s future is in western alliance’

NATO leaders jointly affirm ‘Ukraine’s future is in western alliance’

NATO leaders have jointly affirmed that “Ukraine’s future is in NATO” and its path is “irreversible”, as they pledged long-term support for Kyiv.

The leaders did not provide a specific timeline for Ukraine to join the defensive alliance.

Instead, they said they would “be in a position to extend an invitation to Ukraine to join the Alliance when Allies agree, and conditions are met”.

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“We welcome the concrete progress Ukraine has made since the Vilnius Summit on its required democratic, economic, and security reforms,” the leaders said in the Washington Summit Declaration, released after a meeting of NATO’s North Atlantic Council on Wednesday (Thursday AEST).

“As Ukraine continues this vital work, we will continue to support it on its irreversible path to full Euro-Atlantic integration, including NATO membership,” the declaration said.

The declaration outlined the alliance’s ongoing support for Kyiv, including previous announcements on new air defence systems and the establishment of the “NATO Security Assistance and Training for Ukraine (NSATU) to coordinate the provision of military equipment and training for Ukraine by Allies and partners”.

Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Richard Marles, who is representing Australia at the summit, pledged continuing federal government support for Ukraine.

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“We see that Ukraine being able to resolve this conflict on its terms is in Australia’s national interest,” he said.

“That’s why we’ve provided significant support to Ukraine up until this moment of time and we’ll continue to provide support to Ukraine.”

“We see this as a conflict that is likely to endure over a period of time and we certainly will be standing with Ukraine for as long as it takes for Ukraine to resolve this on its own terms.”

The description of Ukraine’s path as “irreversible” comes after months of diplomatic negotiations in the lead up to the Washington Summit and was a point of contention among the allies.

Prior to the release of the declaration, some diplomats had argued that it was not enough to just describe the path as “irreversible,” but that there must be strong support undergirding that description.

Moving the training and equipment coordination under the auspices of NATO has been seen by many as a way to ensure ongoing support for Kyiv in the case of the reelection of former US president Donald Trump.

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Officials have quietly expressed concerns about what a second Trump presidency could mean for the defensive alliance and for the military support for Kyiv as Russia’s war in Ukraine continues with little sign of a military or diplomatic conclusion.

There is “a growing and understandable doubt about the future of Western support” for Ukraine, a European diplomat said last week.

The leaders announced “a pledge of long-term support” to Ukraine, with the intention “to provide a minimum baseline funding of €40 billion ($64 billion) within the next year, and to provide sustainable levels of security assistance for Ukraine to prevail”.

The declaration also recognised the Indo-Pacific as “important for NATO”, but did not suggest a strong role for the alliance in this area.

Australia, New Zealand, South Korea and Japan are partners of the western alliance.

“We welcome the continued contributions of our Asia-Pacific partners to Euro-Atlantic security,” it said.

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