Zelensky calls Nato summit ‘a meaningful success’; Nordic countries to support G7 security commitments

Zelensky calls Nato summit ‘a meaningful success’; Nordic countries to support G7 security commitments
US President Joe Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky at a media conference to announce a ‘Joint Declaration of Support for Ukraine’ by the G7 states and the EU during the Nato summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, on 12 July 2023. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Valda Kalnin)

President Volodymyr Zelensky said the Nato summit was successful in providing Ukraine with security commitments after softening his earlier criticism of the alliance’s steps towards offering his country a path towards membership.

The Group of Seven (G7) said it would provide commitments to Kyiv on the sidelines of the second day of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato) leaders’ summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, where the defence alliance agreed on a package of measures aimed at deepening ties with Kyiv and underlining the alliance’s long-term support.

The allies pledged multiyear assistance to Ukraine, created a new Nato-Ukraine Council and sped up the process that will allow Ukraine to join Nato.

US President Joe Biden met Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who had criticised Nato on Tuesday for not having set a clear timeline for Ukrainian accession.

Latest developments




Macron urges Israel to provide more support to Ukraine

French President Emmanuel Macron urged Israel to make more effort to help Ukraine repel Russia’s invasion. “We fervently want Israel to commit to more support for Ukraine,” Macron told reporters following the Nato summit in Vilnius. He said many more countries would be required to send more equipment to Ukraine in the coming months, without elaborating.

Biden seeks to reassure Zelensky

Biden said he hoped security guarantees offered by the G7 and language in the Nato communique signalling an intention to eventually accept Ukraine would “put to bed” concerns raised by Zelensky over entering the alliance.

“We’re going to make sure that you get what you need,” Biden assured his Ukrainian counterpart after a bilateral meeting. “And I look forward to the day we’re having the meeting to celebrate your official, official membership in Nato.”

Despite his previous concerns, Zelensky told reporters as he sat next to Biden that there was “great unity from our leaders and security guarantees”, adding, “That is a success for this summit.”

Sunak plays down Wallace remarks on Ukraine’s ingratitude  

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak sought to play down earlier comments from his defence secretary, Ben Wallace, who had suggested Zelensky needs to put more emphasis on thanking allies for their help.

“President Zelensky has expressed his gratitude for what we have done on a number of occasions, not least in his incredibly moving address that he made to Parliament earlier this year and he has done so again to me, as he has done countless times when I have met him,” Sunak told reporters at a news conference. “But across Ukraine, people are also fighting for their lives and freedom every single day.”

Earlier Wallace had raised eyebrows by telling reporters that people want to see some gratitude. “You know, we’re not Amazon,” he said. “I told them that last year, when I drove 11 hours to be given a list.”

Nordic countries to support G7 security commitments

The Nordic countries will line up behind the initiative led by the Group of Seven nations to provide Ukraine with security assurances, in conjunction with a leaders’ summit that will be held in Helsinki on Thursday, Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store said.

The G7 commitments “are very much in line with what we are doing”, the premier said about the commitments, which were announced at the Nato summit in Vilnius on Wednesday. “We will give Norwegian support to this declaration, and we will do it in a joint statement with the other Nordic countries,” Gahr Store told reporters in the Lithuanian capital.

Estonia praises Nato’s moves on Ukraine

Estonian Foreign Minister Margus Tsahkna said his country was satisfied with the outcome of the Nato agreement on Ukraine’s perspective to join because Estonia’s goal was to set a path for Ukrainian membership, and the alliance took several practical decisions.

“Always, you can find some words and ask why they are there. But as a picture, the whole picture, there is a path which has been described with next steps moving forward,” Tsahkna said in an interview on the sidelines of the summit. “Yesterday, it was the moment when the process of Ukrainian membership started in real life.”

Ukraine can deliver key reforms for next summit, says Lithuania

Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said he’s convinced that Ukraine can deliver on the conditions set by Nato through reforms in the run-up to the alliance’s Washington summit next year, which could be historic for Kyiv.

“The Vilnius summit was not the last stop, we have to see it as a bridge and the next stop is Washington,” Landsbergis said during the Nato Public Forum. “We still have a full year, lots to do and I count on every single one of you to do your part so that Washington can actually be even more historic than Vilnius.”

Nato and Ukraine hold first joint council in Vilnius 

Kyiv and Nato allies are meeting for the first time in the newly established Nato-Ukraine Council, which will allow them to hold crisis consultations and take joint decisions in an effort to move the country closer to the military alliance.

“This is a forum where Ukraine and Nato allies will meet as equals,” Nato Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters ahead of the meeting, part of a package of measures of long-term support for Kyiv agreed on Tuesday. “Today we meet as equals — I look forward to the day we meet as allies.”

The move, which Stoltenberg says marks the “beginning of a new chapter in the relationship between Nato and Ukraine,” bumps Ukraine up to the same level of partnership Nato held with Russia before the war started. At the Nato summit in 2008, where allies agreed Ukraine would eventually join, the alliance on the sidelines held a Nato-Russia Council with Vladimir Putin, who warned of Russia’s response to the bloc’s expansion.

Zelensky expresses confidence in Nato membership 

Zelensky expressed “words of gratitude” for the steps taken by allies to support Ukraine’s defence, backing down from comments he made on Tuesday criticising Nato for not giving Kyiv a clear accession timeline.

“We understand some are afraid to talk about our membership in Nato now because they are afraid of the global war,” Zelensky told reporters. “It’s for the first time today when it sounded confidently that we will be a member of Nato.”

He added that he understands the conditions for membership to be “when it will be safe on our land”.

UK tells Ukraine to show more gratitude to allies for weapons  

UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace suggested Ukraine should show more gratitude to the countries supplying weapons after Zelensky said on Tuesday it was “unprecedented and absurd” that he didn’t have more detail on when Ukraine could become a Nato member

“There is a slight word of caution here — which whether we like it or not, people want to see gratitude,” Wallace told reporters in Vilnius, particularly when “you’re persuading a country to give up their stock”, he added.

Zelensky says he will ‘fight’ for security guarantees 

Zelensky said he would discuss security guarantees for Ukraine with Nato’s allies while it seeks membership in the bloc.

“We want to be on the same page with everybody with all the understanding” regarding invitation to join Nato, Zelensky told journalists on Wednesday in Vilnius. “We will speak and fight for this — security guarantees for Ukraine on the way to Nato.”

UK says security declaration sends signal to Putin 

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said, “This declaration reaffirms our commitment to ensure it [Ukraine] is never left vulnerable to the kind of brutality Russia has inflicted on it again.”

The agreement “will send a strong signal to President Putin and return peace to Europe,” he added.

US defends Nato promises to Ukraine 

The White House defended language in the Nato communique that said Ukraine would be invited to join the alliance but stopped short of providing a specific timeline or conditions, calling the declaration “a very strong forward-leaning message”.

Zelensky tweeted before arriving at the summit that it was “unprecedented and absurd” for leaders to use vague language and fail to provide a concrete time frame. But Amanda Sloat, the National Security Council senior director for Europe, told reporters on Wednesday that the alliance’s decision to remove some bureaucratic requirements for Ukraine to join — and explicitly declare an intention to accept the country — represented genuine progress.

“I would agree that the communique is unprecedented, but I see that in a positive way,” Sloat said. “We joined with allies yesterday in agreeing to a very strong positive message. We reaffirmed that Ukraine will become a member of the Nato alliance.”

Lithuania downplays Zelensky’s criticisms 

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda said the ongoing war in Ukraine prompted Zelensky’s critical reaction to some of the decisions at the Nato summit.

“We should refrain from reaction to the statements made by a president whose country is fighting a war,” Nauseda told reporters in Vilnius. “Sometimes we don’t read the same text the same.” Nauseda said Ukraine still needed to implement reforms, which are also needed for its EU membership.

Hungary to discuss Sweden bid this week, says ATV 

Hungary’s government plans to discuss Sweden’s bid to join Nato during a three-day meeting this week, local television station ATV said on Tuesday, citing unidentified officials. Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s Cabinet may settle on a date for Parliament to vote on ratifying Sweden’s effort to join the alliance.

Turkey, the only other Nato member along with Hungary yet to approve Sweden’s bid, this week agreed to back the Nordic country’s membership after months of negotiations. Hungary’s foreign minister, Peter Szijjarto, said earlier that Orbán had been coordinating with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and the vote in Parliament was only a technical issue.

Nato needs to do more on Ukraine’s membership, says Polands Duda  

Nato’s decision to invite Ukraine to join the alliance when its members agree and conditions are met “is absolutely not enough” for Kyiv, according to Polish President Andrzej Duda.

“It was hard for Nato to give a timeframe for membership considering there is a war and accession during the war is impossible,” Duda told reporters on Wednesday. But the path provided to Kyiv was clear and the decision had effectively been made, he said.

“I hope in a few years Ukraine will be a full member in our alliance,” Duda said.




Abramovich sanctions based on fame, not evidence – lawyer

The European Union’s sanctioning of Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich for his alleged links to President Putin was a political move by the bloc’s leaders to clamp down on a famous Russian, his lawyer told an EU court.

At a hearing in the EU’s General Court on Wednesday, Abramovich’s legal team hit out at claims that his privileged relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin allowed him to line his pockets while his company provides a “substantial source of revenue to the Russian war effort in Ukraine.

Abramovich was placed on the EU sanctions list in part due to his fame, rather than “based on evidence”, lawyer Thierry Bontinck said.

Abramovich saw his travel restricted and his EU assets frozen after he was placed on the bloc’s sanctions list in March for his alleged close links to Putin and by extension, the country’s war efforts in Ukraine.

“A myth has grown up around the personality of Roman Abramovich,” Bontinck said of the high-profile former owner of Chelsea Football Club. He never had a “chance of avoiding being put under restrictive measures”, his lawyer said.

Abramovich (56) is one of the richest people in Russia who became widely known after the sale of the Sibneft oil company to state-run Gazprom for $13-billion in 2005. The billionaire was forced to sell Chelsea for £4.25-billion after being sanctioned by the UK in March, ending nearly two decades as owner of the West London club. The EU followed with sanctions days later.

Abramovich is one among many sanctioned Russian billionaires who have challenged sanctions against them at the EU’s highest court. Last week, a lawyer for Mikail Fridman that the oligarch’s life had been “destroyed” by the EU restrictions.

Russia’s flagship crude is trading on cusp of G7 price cap

Russia’s flagship Urals crude oil rose to the cusp of a price cap that the Group of Seven nations imposed in an effort to cut the Kremlin’s funding for the war in Ukraine.

If the country’s top export grade surpasses the $60 threshold, it would allow Moscow to claim a win of sorts by showing Russia can get its barrels to buyers around the world without help from Western firms. The price cap allows Russian oil to be transported with Western ships and insurance only if it’s priced below the threshold.

But a vast shadow fleet of tankers has emerged since sanctions ratcheted up last year, helping to haul the nation’s oil and work around the cap.

The grade rose to $59.98 a barrel at the Black Sea port of Novorossiysk on Tuesday, according to data from Argus Media. The pricing agency’s assessments are important in determining future caps.

US officials have long argued that the price cap is there to give buyers leverage while ensuring that, if Russia can’t transport its own barrels, there is no consequent oil supply shock.

But a breaching of $60 for Urals would nonetheless suggest Russia’s ability to get its barrels delivered independently is growing. DM


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