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NATO summit convenes to add fuel to the fire!

NATO summit convenes to add fuel to the fire!

On Tuesday, July 11, a NATO summit will be place in Vilnius, Lithuania’s capital. It is argued that holding the summit in Lithuania, a former Soviet republic, especially on Ukraine’s NATO membership, is a message to Russia. The leaders of 31 NATO member countries, as well as the head of Sweden, which has been invited to join the alliance, will attend this year’s summit. Furthermore, Japan, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand will be represented at the summit at the top level to underscore NATO’s ambition of expanding into Asia. The NATO mascot, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, will also be in Vilnius for the summit.

Ukraine one of the three primary topics

The issues to be discussed at this summit of NATO, whose membership increased to 31 with the accession of Finland, will mostly be related to Ukraine and Russia. The Ukraine topic at the summit has 3 main elements.

The first one is to increase military support to Ukraine in its war with Russia. The US is expecting NATO countries will to agree on a long-term, multi-year support program.

The first objective of the program is to convert the Soviet-era military equipment held by Ukraine to NATO standards, actually modernizing the Ukrainian military inventory.

The second Ukraine-related element is the upgrading of political relations with the country. The parties’ relations, which were previously conducted on the basis of the NATO-Ukraine Commission, will henceforth take place within the framework of the NATO-Ukraine Council. By elevating the relationship to the Council level, NATO and Ukraine will be able to make political decisions together as equal parties, rather than in consultation, and will cooperate easier.

The third factor is Ukraine’s membership in NATO. At the summit, NATO countries are expected to confirm that Ukraine will become a member of the Alliance, as they did 15 years ago at the NATO Bucharest Summit. However, it is unlikely that there will be a clear message on when and how this will happen.

The reason for this is the ongoing war in Ukraine. It has already been made very clear that Ukraine will not be accepted as a NATO member while it is still at war with Russia.

The rationale is that NATO does not want to be a direct party to the Russian-Ukrainian war at the moment. Accepting Ukraine into the Alliance while the war is ongoing would mean that there would be a war on NATO territory and that an ally would be attacked.

This would trigger Article 5 of NATO’s founding treaty, which states “an attack on one ally is an attack on all allies”. This would mean that NATO could be dragged directly into a conflict with Russia, and NATO member countries do not want that.

No consensus on Ukraine’s NATO membership

However, the leaders will discuss in Vilnius how and what kind of security guarantees NATO can provide to Ukraine after the end of the war. NATO officials do not elaborate on the issue of security guarantees. Days before the summit, diplomats from member states and NATO officials are still negotiating on how the Vilnius Declaration will address the issue of Ukraine’s membership and what kind of tone will be used.

The declaration issued at NATO’s Bucharest Summit in 2008 stated that Ukraine would become a member of the Alliance, but did not set out a framework for when and how this would happen.

American diplomats are signaling that NATO may go further than the Bucharest Declaration. US Ambassador to NATO Julianne Smith told reporters in a briefing that “we are not going to Vilnius to reiterate the Bucharest declaration. We are taking into account the current situation and the fact that Russia is waging a war on Ukrainian territory. I think the statement in Vilnius will reflect the Alliance’s commitment to the long-term stability and security of Ukraine.”

Sweden’s accession is in jeopardy

Sweden’s application for NATO membership is expected to be one of the most discussed topics at the summit. Following Finland’s admission to membership in April 2023, statements have been made at the highest level by NATO and many NATO countries for Sweden’s membership process to be completed as soon as possible.

However, the fact that Turkiye’s legitimate security concerns have not been met and that the legal arrangements made in Sweden to combat terrorism have not yet yielded the expected results in practice, constitute obstacles to Sweden’s membership process. Turkiye is waiting for the fulfillment of the commitments under the Trilateral Memorandum signed at the previous NATO Summit in Madrid in June 2022. On Monday, July 10, the final “Trilateral meeting” will be held in Vilnius. Turkiye is expected to continue to resist.

New NATO regional military plans will be discussed

One of the most important subjects in Vilnius is the new regional military plans to enhance the Alliance’s defense and deterrence against Russia and China. NATO’s secret military plans are expected to be approved by the leaders at the summit. But Turkiye and Hungary have objections to the plans, and negotiations are being held until the last days to finalize the plans for approval. NATO officials are not saying whether the plans have been finalized for approval. 

NATO has been working on these military plans for years. 

NATO’s regional plans, which are detailed and comprehensive, cover only the regions within NATO’s borders. These secret plans were created for three regions. The first is the Atlantic and Northern Europe, the second is Central Europe from the Baltics to the Alps, and the third is from the Mediterranean to the Black Sea. The plans determine when and how NATO will deploy forces in these regions on land, at sea, in the air, in space, and in cyberspace, and how it will take action in the event of a threat.

Under the plans, NATO aims to deploy a force of around 300,000 troops to the eastern flank within a maximum of 30 days.

US imposes excessive increase in military spending

Leaders will also discuss increasing military spending in Vilnius. In this framework, it is expected that the “Defense Production Action Plan” will be approved. While NATO officials note the need for investment to increase the production of weapons and war equipment, the Summit will set an ambitious defense investment commitment in this regard. The US is imposing allies to commit to allocating at least 2 percent of their gross domestic product to military spending.

Crazy line pushed by the US will break up NATO

NATO was established on April 4, 1949, within the framework of the “North Atlantic Treaty” signed in Washington by 12 developed capitalist countries, led by the United States. 

NATO has always favored war above peace and has been an instrument of US control over the world since its inception. It has always championed the imperialist interests of the United States rather than the interests of its members.

NATO, which has so far brought nothing but tyranny, bloodshed, and sorrow to its members and developing countries, now wishes to extend into Asia, a goal much beyond its capabilities.

Today NATO stands as the biggest obstacle to the aspirations of the developing countries of the world for peace, dialogue, independence, development, mutual respect, non-interference in internal affairs, and shared development. 

At its current summit, 74 years after foundation, it is preparing new plans to enlarge and spread the fire!

But we believe that humanity will establish a community of shared destiny in order to build a shared future. The insane line imposed by the US will result in NATO’s dissolution.

Adnan Akfırat

Adnan Akfirat is former representative to China and Member of International Relations Bureau of the Patriotic Party of Türkiye; Chairman of Turkish-Chinese Business Development and Friendship Association (Turk-Cin Is Der); visitor researcher of Shanghai University Turkish Studies Center and Shihezi University Silk Road Research Center. Mr. Akfirat has been living in Shanghai since 2011.

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