NATO summit in Vilnius must demonstrate allied unity - Nauseda

  • 2023-06-26
  • LETA/BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS - Against the existing geopolitical background, the NATO summit in Vilnius in July "will need to demonstrate allied unity, being close to the aggressor, and allies will need to make decisions that will ensure the security and defense of every inch of the Alliance," Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda said on Monday. 

"Effective deterrence and forward defense are our absolute priority," Nauseda said following a meeting with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg. 

Speaking about the upcoming summit's key decisions, Stoltenberg pointed to the adoption of decisions to bring Ukraine closer to NATO, new regional defense plans, air defense, Finland and Sweden's NATO membership, and the commitment to increase defense funding to at least 2 percent of GDP.

"As Russia continues its assault, it is even more important to continue our support to Ukraine. The Ukrainians have launched counteroffensive to retake occupied land and the more land they are able to liberate and the stronger their hand will eventually be at the negotiating table," the NATO secretary general said.

For his part, the Lithuanian leader insisted that the meeting must make it clear that Ukraine will become a NATO member as soon as possible.

Commenting on last weekend's mutiny in Russia, Nauseda said that it shows that challenges of a similar or even greater scale can be expected in the future,

"Last weekend's events in Russia demonstrated the Kremlin regime's instability. We can expect challenges of a similar or even greater scale in the future," Nauseda told reporters.

Stoltenberg indicated that the unrest in Russia, sparked by the Wagner military group's threats to overturn the country's military leadership, shows what a strategic mistake Russian President Vladimir Putin made.

"The events of the weekend are an internal Russian matter and yet another demonstration of the big strategic mistake that President Putin made with his illegal annexation of Crimea and the war against Ukraine," Stoltenberg said.

The Lithuanian president said events in Russia might have impact on Lithuania's and regional security situation. "The presence of the Wagner group in Belarus could be an additional factor," he said.