The increase in forces, aid to Ukraine and the further expansion of the bloc are on the agenda
The 30-member organization will focus on strengthening its forces in Europe and elsewhere in the wake of Russia’s military campaign in Ukraine, which began in late February. Members are also expected to discuss more aid to Kyiv, as well as the possibility of Sweden and Finland joining the bloc.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Monday that the bloc would increase the number of rapid reaction forces from about 40,000 to “good bit over” 300,000. He stamped Russia “the most significant and direct threat.”
The summit takes place on the heels of the G7 summit in southern Germany, where the leaders of the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the EU promised to support Ukraine “as long as it takes.”
NATO members are also expected to discuss further military and economic assistance to Ukraine. Since February, the Allies have increasingly supplied heavy weapons to Kyiv, including various missile systems, howitzers, combat drones, armored vehicles, radar and helicopters. The latest reports said that the US bought Norwegian-developed NASAMS medium to long range for ground-to-air missile systems.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said in February that NATO was expanding eastward and trying to set up “a foothold” in Ukraine was one of the reasons why Russian troops attacked Ukraine. NATO denied that its forces and military sites posed a threat to Russia.
NATO will adopt the revised strategic concept, the bloc’s key document, which provides an assessment of the current security environment. Stoltenberg said that the document, in addition to Russia, will address China for the first time.
READ MORE: NATO will double its rapid reaction forces – Stoltenberg
Sweden and Finland are participating in the event for the first time after both former non-aligned countries formally applied to join NATO in May. Turkey said it would block its membership and accused the two Nordic states of harboring people linked to Kurdish organizations, which Ankara considers terrorist groups.
Reuters quoted Turkish officials and Western diplomats on Monday as saying that a breakthrough in the issue of Swedish and Finnish membership was “unlikely.”