Last week (July 10–16), the NATO Summit was held in Vilnius. The participants adopted some important decisions for Ukraine. The allies approved a multi-year program of support for our country. They decided to establish the NATO-Ukraine Council and agreed to remove the requirement to implement the Membership Action Plan.

During the summit, Ukraine received security guarantees from G7, several countries announced new military assistance packages worth more than 1.5 billion euros. The Allies announced that they would begin training Ukrainian pilots on the F-16.

On the other hand, Russia accused NATO of a definitive return to Cold War schemes and provocative enlargement policies.

The outcomes of the NATO summit are “good” but Ukraine and its allies have much to work on

By far the most important event from last week was the NATO summit on July 11–12 in Vilnius. Although this diplomatic meeting did not fully meet the optimistic expectations of Ukrainians, in the end, even Volodymyr Zelensky admitted the results of the summit were “good.” However, if our country were invited to the Alliance, “they would have been perfect.”

First of all, the allies approved a new multi-year program of support for Ukraine. Among other things, it will ensure the transition of the Armed Forces of Ukraine to NATO standards of training and doctrines. Moreover, it was agreed to create a new body – the NATO-Ukraine Council, which should open up more opportunities for practical cooperation and integration. In addition, the Summit participants confirmed that Ukraine would become a member of NATO, and agreed to remove the Membership Action Plan requirement. In fact, it will reduce the number of steps required to join the Alliance. However, unfortunately, Ukraine has not yet received a direct invitation to NATO.

A propos, according to the findings of a recent sociological survey, the absolute majority of Ukrainians – 89% – want to see Ukraine as a member of NATO.

Volodymyr Zelensky assured that Ukraine would have an invitation to NATO “when security conditions allow.” The President of Ukraine also denied the possibility of any compromise regarding Ukraine’s future membership in NATO in the context of possible negotiations with the Kremlin: “We will never exchange any status for any of our territories. Even if it is one village with one old man still living.”

At the same time, NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg, emphasized that the strongest decisions have been made at the summit so far “with the full knowledge that Moscow will object.” The White House also claims that “NATO’s door is open” and “that Ukraine will become a NATO member despite Russia’s demands.”

According to US State Department spokesman Matthew Miller, whatever plans Vladimir Putin makes, “it would suffice for him to look at the security assistance [from the US] provided to Ukraine.” At the same time, the reason for the refusal to accept Ukraine into NATO at this moment in time is that it “would instantly draw the United States into a war with Russia.”

Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said that, in his opinion, the invitation of Ukraine to NATO was postponed not for bargaining with the Kremlin, and nothing will replace membership in the Alliance for Ukraine. The Foreign Minister is also convinced: “We have overcome the psychological barrier, and I see that Ukraine is really seen as a NATO member.”

Interestingly, US President Joe Biden, at a meeting with Volodymyr Zelensky, said that he was “looking forward” to the day when Ukraine would celebrate its official membership in NATO.

In addition, although Zelensky considers NATO’s decision on the uncertainty regarding Ukraine to be “unprecedented and absurd,” he believes the allies and is confident that “Ukraine will be in NATO.”

On the other hand, NSDC Secretary Oleksiy Danilov believes that even without a “temporary” decision on full membership, “the place and weight of Ukraine on the agenda of the Vilnius NATO summit in 2023 is a historic event,” and the Vilnius summit is “the end to Putin’s project to restore the Russian-Soviet empire.”

Finally, we should say that Ukraine has already held the first consultations on the formation of an adapted annual national program (ANP), which will shape Ukraine’s progress on future NATO membership and the implementation of necessary reforms. Vice Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration, Olha Stefanishyna, reiterated that our country and allies will primarily focus on the areas related to interoperability and non-military support for Ukraine.

Ukraine Receives Security Guarantees From G7 And a New Batch of Weapons

On July 12, at the NATO summit in Vilnius, the G7 countries (the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan) agreed on a framework document on security guarantees for Ukraine. The document was called the Joint Declaration of Support for Ukraine (hereinafter referred to as the Declaration).

According to US President Joe Biden, this document guarantees the security of Ukraine in the future. On the other hand, the British government called the proposed guarantees a historic step towards the end of the current phase of the war.

In particular, the document outlines the obligations of the G7 member states to continue to provide “security assistance and modern military equipment on land, in the air and at sea, with a priority on air defense, long-range artillery and long-range firepower, armored vehicles and other key means, such as combat aviation, as well as by promoting increased interoperability with Euro-Atlantic partners.”

In return, Ukraine commits to continue democratic reforms, including law enforcement, judicial, anti-corruption, corporate governance and economic, security and public sector reforms. Ukraine also commits to advancing defense reforms, including “strengthening democratic civilian control over the armed forces and increasing efficiency and transparency in Ukraine's defense institutions and industry.”

During the presentation of the document, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said that the Declaration is open for signing by any country. As of July 17, it is known that 10 more countries have joined it: Denmark, Spain, Holland, Norway, Sweden, Czech Republic, Finland, Iceland, Belgium, and Portugal.

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky, during a visit to Kyiv of Korean President Yoon Seok Yule, called on Korea to also join the Declaration on Security Garantees.

After the Vilnius Summit, Ukraine should negotiate with each of the signatory states and conclude “bilateral security commitments and agreements” with them. According to Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine is already drafting such agreements.

Also, at the end of the NATO summit, Ukraine’s international partners announced a new package of military assistance worth more than 1.5 billion euros. According to the Minister of Defense of Ukraine Oleksiy Reznikov, Germany will provide the largest assistance package in the amount of 700 million euros. It includes 25 Leopard 1A5 tanks, 40 Marder 1A3 armored vehicles, 2 Patriot air defense systems, 5 Bergepanzer 2 armored repair vehicles, ammunition.

A number of other countries have also announced military aid packages. For example, Australia will provide Bushmaster armored personnel carriers; France – long-range SCALP missiles (the French equivalent of the British Storm Sadow missiles with a longer range); Norway – NASAMS launchers and control centers, as well as Black Hornet reconnaissance drones; UK⁠– armored vehicles and shells for tanks; Canada – armored vehicles and $410 million, and the Netherlands will contribute to strengthening air defense and artillery.

In addition, 11 partner countries (Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium, Canada, Luxembourg, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Sweden and the United Kingdom) signed a memorandum with Ukraine that defines the conditions for training Ukrainian pilots on F-16 fighters. This was announced on Twitter by the Minister of Defense of Ukraine, Oleksiy Reznikov.

According to him, the memorandum provides that Ukrainian pilots, technicians, and other personnel will take part in the training program. It is also possible to include other types of fighters in the program, in addition to F-16 aircraft.

However, a few days after the summit, the US Politico reported that a coalition of European countries, which this week promised to start training Ukrainian pilots, is still waiting for official approval of the program from the United States.

The White House denied this information. According to US National Security Advisor, Jake Sullivan, the US will allow European countries to start training Ukrainian pilots. "The president gave the green light, and we will allow, support, facilitate and actually provide the necessary tools for Ukrainians to start training on the F-16 as soon as the Europeans are ready," he said.

The Biden adviser also noted that European countries need several weeks to prepare training opportunities, and the United States will comply with any deadlines that they set.

Russia Reacts Vehemently to the Outcomes of the NATO Summit in Vilnius

The threat of NATO expansion, in particular due to Ukraine’s accession to the Alliance, was one of the reasons announced by Russia to start the so-called “special operation”. However, Finland’s accession, Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s unblocking of Sweden’s accession, and clear signals regarding Ukraine’s NATO ⁠membership at the Vilnius Summit set the goals of the “special operations” far back.

Analysts of the Institute for the Study of War drew attention to the lack of general response in the Russian information space regarding the NATO summit, which, according to experts, indicates an awareness of Kremlin’s defeat.

At the same time, the Russian side, commenting on the events of the Vilnius Summit, tried to discredit the Alliance with their propaganda narratives. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that the national interests of the Finnish and Swedish states were allegedly sacrificed in the name of the need to rally the West in the fight against Russia by turning Ukraine into another neo-Nazi tool.

The Russian Foreign Ministry also accused NATO of a final return to Cold War schemes and provocative enlargement policies. "By stirring up an imaginary threat from the East, the United States and its satellites intend to use NATO as the main tool of hegemony in world affairs, deterring other centers of the emerging multipolar world order," the Foreign Ministry said.

In addition, the Russian side expressed confidence that they are already at war with NATO – this opinion was expressed by Dmitry Medvedev.

On the other hand, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that NATO is waging a hybrid war with Russia using the"Kyiv regime" as a tool. She also emphasized that NATO is not interested in ending hostilities in Ukraine. They say that the "Westerners" benefit from the crisis of the security system in the European space, and the main goal of "Washington and its satellites" is to inflict a strategic defeat on Russia and maintain its dominant influence in the international arena.

Russia may be very nervous about NATO's decision on new defense plans, which will deploy 300,000 troops in a state of high readiness and increased defense production to combat two key threats – Russia and terrorism. However, unlike Russia, NATO is a defensive alliance that does not aim at aggressive actions. The Alliance helps Ukraine to preserve its sovereignty and restore its territorial integrity.

However, the aggressor called the decisions taken at the Vilnius summit as an encroachment on Russia's security. Thus, the press secretary of the President of the Russian Federation, Dmitry Peskov, said that by providing any security guarantees to Ukraine, the countries ignore the international principle of indivisibility of security, and encroach on Russia's security.At the same time, State Duma deputy Leonid Slutsky emphasized that Russia cannot afford to keep "a permanent hotbed of tension and a hotbed of Nazism near Russian borders."

Instead, Russian dictator Vladimir Putin said that he did not mind discussing the security guarantees for Ukraine declared in NATO and the G7, but subject to the mandatory security of the Russian Federation. Putin mentioned the Istanbul agreements on security guarantees for Ukraine in a positive light but he is not ready to agree with Ukraine's Euro-Atlantic course.

Obviously, the guarantees of Ukraine's security in the form of NATO membership make the Kremlin's imperialist dreams unattainable. According to Peskov, Ukraine's accession to the Alliance will have highly negative consequences for Europe's security architecture, and Ukraine as a NATO member will become a threat to Russia, which will require an understandable and firm reaction. The Russian side claims that such a step would allegedly give a new impetus to the Kyiv regime to continue the "Bandera cause".

Similar statements and threats were made about the plans of military support for Ukraine voiced at the NATO summit, in particular in the context of building a coalition of countries to train Ukrainian pilots on Western aircraft fighters. Sergei Lavrov, in an interview with the Russian outlet, said that the Russian Federation would consider the very fact of F-16 fighters appearing in Ukraine as a threat in the nuclear sphere, and Washington allegedly creates risks of a direct armed confrontation with Russia. His colleague Maria Zakharova said that by providing weapons to Ukraine, Washington, London and Brussels allegedly openly sponsor terrorists in the region, seeking to completely destabilize the situation.

On the other hand, Medvedev threatened the world to liquidate the "Kyiv Nazi group," to start the Third World War and continue the special operation with previous goals. Dmitry Peskov reiterated that the weapons provided to Ukraine are not able to influence the course of events within the SMO but they can only aggravate the fate of the Kyiv regime.

Finally, the Russian side will have to endure the strengthening of Ukraine's defense. Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, Dmytro Kuleba, emphasized that Putin and the Russian leadership should fear the most the Ukrainian military. At the same time, despite the Kremlin's threats, Ukraine will receive the latest aircraft.

“Ukraine will receive the F-16s as planned. And Russia will swallow it, despite the Lavrov’s tongue-rattling, " said Dmytro Kuleba.