VILNIUS – The NATO summit in Vilnius must strengthen the Alliance’s political ties with Ukraine, NATO Assistant Secretary General, Ambassador Baiba Braze has said.
Addressing a high-level meeting of speakers of NATO parliaments hosted by the Seimas of Lithuania on Friday, she said that the allies were providing military assistance to Ukraine but political ties were also important.
“We also need to ensure that Ukraine remains a free and independent state, which is why we will welcome President Zelensky at the NATO summit in Vilnius, and I hope that we will not only increase our practical support to the Ukrainian people, but will also strengthen political ties between Ukraine and the Alliance,” Braze said.
According to her, everyone agrees and approves that Ukraine should become a member of the Alliance, and that this should be decided by NATO and not by Russia.
She noted that a strategic multi-annual program of support for Ukraine was being prepared at present.
“We are working on it to help Ukraine move away from the old Soviet-era doctrines and equipment and to help Ukraine reach modern NATO standards", NATO Assistant Secretary General said.
According to her, over the past year, the allies have provided Ukraine with 150 billion US dollars in assistance, including 65 billion euros in military aid, in training of Ukrainian troops, weapons, equipment and humanitarian assistance.
“It is clear that we must continue to support Ukraine. (...) If Putin wins, it will not only be a tragedy for Ukraine, it will make the whole world more vulnerable,” Braze warned.
“If Putin wins, he will think that he can achieve his goals by force, that he can intimidate the whole world and flout international rules. We cannot let that happen", she argued.
Braze also stressed that countries should invest more in defense, aiming for a “floor” of 2 percent of GDP in this area.
Lithuania and other NATO countries want the Vilnius summit scheduled for July to confirm a commitment to spend at least 2 percent of national GDP on defense.
Vilnius is hosting a high-level meeting of speakers of parliaments of NATO member countries on Friday, held to discuss the global challenges and the global NATO, the increase in defense spending, and the strengthening of deterrence and defense, with a long-term support plan for Ukraine being one of the key topics.
The meeting of parliamentary speakers has been organized in the run-up to the forthcoming NATO summit in Vilnius on July 11-12.