On Tuesday, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg expressed confidence that the United States will continue to offer assistance to Ukraine, despite disagreements among American lawmakers regarding additional funding for the country’s war efforts.
Before the beginning of two days of discussions with NATO foreign ministers in Brussels, Stoltenberg praised the exceptional military assistance that NATO allies have given to Ukraine in reaction to Russia’s invasion.
Stoltenberg stated that the current challenge is to maintain the level of support.
He stated that it is NATO’s responsibility to support Ukraine and warned that a Russian triumph in Ukraine would not only be devastating for Ukrainians, but also pose a threat to NATO nations.
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Before the ministerial talks began, Stoltenberg held a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
“We will be strongly reaffirming our support for Ukraine as it continues to face Russia’s war of aggression,” Blinken told reporters in a joint appearance with Stoltenberg.
The ‘Ultimate Membership’ of Ukraine in NATO.
The United States is hosting the next NATO summit in Washington from July 9 to 11, 2024. Blinken discussed priorities for the Washington meeting with his counterparts as the alliance celebrates its 75th anniversary next year.
A high-ranking American official informed journalists that a considerable amount of the talks leading up to the Washington Summit would focus on guaranteeing that Ukraine is making adequate advancements towards eventual NATO membership, “when the timing is appropriate.”
The member countries of the bloc have proposed a series of reforms to Ukraine, which include enhancing anti-corruption agencies and authorities.
On Wednesday, Blinken will have individual discussions with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba following his participation in the initial meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Council at the foreign minister level. This comes as Kyiv aims to join NATO.
Jim O’Brien, the assistant secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs, stated that the Council is in favor of Ukraine’s strong alliance with NATO. He also mentioned that allies will stand by Ukraine in their self-defense efforts until Russia ceases their aggressive actions.
The NATO-Ukraine Council was established during the NATO Summit in Vilnius on July 12, with the presence of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and other leaders of member governments.
In late July, the group met for the second time to address concerns about security in the Black Sea region after Russia’s departure from an agreement regulating grain shipments from Ukrainian ports.
The third gathering took place in October to deliberate on providing significant support to Ukraine and ensuring that Ukraine’s military is completely compatible with NATO.
The NATO-Ukraine Council is a collaborative organization where both Allies and Ukraine have equal roles in promoting political discussions.
North Macedonia, OSCE
On Wednesday afternoon, Blinken will head the American team attending a gathering of foreign ministers from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), hosted by North Macedonia, a member of NATO. The meeting will take place in Skopje, the country’s capital, later this week.
Blinken is scheduled to meet with Foreign Minister Bujar Osmani of North Macedonia before departing for the Middle East on Wednesday evening.
North Macedonia requested permission for Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s plane to fly over Bulgaria on its way to Skopje. Bulgaria granted this request, enabling Lavrov to participate in the OSCE ministerial meetings.
The planned attendance of Lavrov at the gathering has caused uproar among Ukraine and the Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, leading them to announce a boycott.
A senior official from the State Department informed reporters on Tuesday that they respect each country’s right to choose whether or not they will participate in the meeting. They believe it is a valuable opportunity to communicate with members of OSCE and will be attending for that purpose.
When asked if Blinken would meet with Lavrov during the OSCE meetings, the official stated that no such encounter was anticipated.