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Lithuania's former leaders call for Ukraine membership invite at NATO summit

by Martin Fornusek July 10, 2023 9:17 PM 2 min read
French and Polish aircraft fly overhead during the opening of an exhibition dedicated to the 19th anniversary of Lithuania's accession to NATO in Vilnius, Lithuania, on March 29, 2023. (Photo by Oleg Nikishin/Getty Images)
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Lithuania's past leaders, including former presidents Valdas Adamkus and Dalia Grybauskaitė, sent a letter asking NATO leaders to invite Ukraine to join the alliance during the Vilnius summit, the LRT public broadcaster reported on July 10.

"Gathering in Vilnius for the NATO summit, you have the opportunity to make a historic decision and invite Ukraine to NATO, without delaying and without waiting for the end of the war," said the statement, also signed by the first head of the restored Lithuanian state Vytautas Landsbergis and signatories of the Act of March 11, declaring the country's independence in 1990.

"Ukraine and its people, with their lives sacrificed for the freedom of us all, deserve that we all defend every centimeter of Ukrainian land. Your decision can stop Russia's aggression against Ukraine."

Earlier on July 10, the incumbent President Gitanas Nausėda called for a "clear plan" on Ukraine's much-desired membership, saying that the Allies should move past promises and declarations to real decisions.

Lithuania is not the only country hoping for decisive proposals for Ukraine at the summit. Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak said that Warsaw counts on a "clear signal" from the Alliance regarding the support for Ukraine, Ukrinform wrote on July 10.

Minister Blaszczak said at a meeting with generals that Poland aims to have a border with independent Ukraine, not with a "part of Russia."

"That's why we support Ukraine... We realize that any attempt to rebuild an empire is evil, which the residents of Irpin and Bucha, who were killed by Russian soldiers, experienced for themselves," the minister said.

"We are counting on the fact that NATO will expand – Sweden will join the Alliance – and that NATO will give a clear signal regarding its support for Ukraine."

Ukraine, after applying for a fast-tracked NATO membership in September 2022, hopes for a decisive signal on its entry into the Alliance at the Vilnius summit on July 11-12. According to Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, Kyiv should be able to skip the Membership Action Plan on its path to accession.

However, even this procedure would still oblige Ukraine to carry out reforms and, contrary to the wishes of Eastern European allies, would not set any time frame for Ukraine's accession. The U.S. and Germany are expected to oppose a decisive invitation for Kyiv at the summit, citing the need for reforms and the ongoing Russian aggression.

Kuleba: NATO allies agree on simplified procedure for Ukraine’s accession
“Following intensive talks,” NATO allies agreed to remove the Membership Action Plan (MAP) from Ukraine’s path toward accession, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on July 10.
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