Secretary General: Vilnius Summit will make Ukraine stronger, reinforce NATO’s deterrence and defence
Previewing the Vilnius Summit at NATO Headquarters on Friday (7 July 2023), Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that the meeting of Allied leaders “will send a clear message: NATO stands united, and Russia’s aggression will not pay.”
“I expect Allied leaders will agree a package with three elements, to bring Ukraine closer to NATO,” said Mr Stoltenberg. The package will include a multi-year programme of assistance to ensure interoperability; upgraded political ties – with President Zelenskyy attending the inaugural meeting of a new NATO-Ukraine Council; and a reaffirmation that Ukraine will become a member of NATO, with unity on how to bring Ukraine closer to its goal.
Allies will also take major steps to strengthen deterrence and defence, with the adoption of three new regional defence plans to counter the two main threats to NATO: Russia and terrorism. The plans will be supported by 300,000 troops on higher readiness, including substantial air and naval combat power.
Allies are also expected to endorse a Defence Production Action Plan to “aggregate demand, boost capacity, and increase interoperability” and a more ambitious defence investment pledge to invest a minimum of 2% of Gross Domestic Product annually on defence. The Secretary General welcomed that NATO’s new defence spending estimates, released today, show a real increase of 8.3% for European Allies and Canada in 2023. "This is the biggest increase in decades, and the ninth consecutive year of increases in our defence spending," said the Secretary General. "So European Allies and Canada will have invested over 450 billion extra US dollars since we agreed our defence investment pledge in 2014."
The leaders of Australia, New Zealand, Japan and South Korea, as well as the European Union, will also take part in the Vilnius Summit. This will be Finland’s first Summit as a NATO Ally, the Secretary General noted, adding: “we look forward to Sweden joining as soon as possible.” Following a constructive meeting of senior officials from Türkiye, Sweden and Finland on Thursday, Mr Stoltenberg will meet with President Erdogan and Prime Minister Kristersson in Vilnius on 10 July, as the next step.