- The Nato summit kicks off on Wednesday evening with a working dinner where ministers will meet with counterparts from Ukraine
- The defence ministers will also examine plans to boost up forces along Nato's eastern flank and abroad
Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Nato defence ministers will examine beefing up weapons shipments to Ukraine and Sweden and Finland’s applications to join the trans-Atlantic military alliance at a two-day summit starting Wednesday.
The meeting comes as Kyiv begs the West to provide more and heavier weapons to help fend off Russia’s offensive in eastern Ukraine, less than two weeks before a NATO summit in Madrid.
“Allies are determined to continuing to provide Ukraine with the military equipment it requires to succeed, including heavy weaponry and long-range systems,” Stoltenberg said.
He also stated that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy would be invited to speak at the Madrid summit on June 29-30, either in person or through videoconference.
Increased weaponry supplies are desperately needed by Ukrainian forces fighting to prevent Russia from seizing control of their country’s industrial east after 312 months of conflict.
Zelenskyy asked for greater and faster supply of Western armaments in his evening address to the country on Tuesday, notably requesting for anti-missile defence systems.
At Nato’s Brussels headquarters on Wednesday, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will convene a conference of approximately 50 nations to discuss arms deliveries to Ukraine.
According to Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar, the occupied country’s military has only gotten about 10% of the Western weapons it wanted “to create parity with the Russian force.”
“No matter how much work Ukraine puts in, no matter how professional our army is, we will not be able to win this war without the backing of Western partners,” Malyar stated in a televised press conference.
Ukraine employs 5,000 to 6,000 artillery rounds every day, whereas Russia employs ten times as much.
The Nato summit kicks off on Wednesday evening with a working dinner where ministers will meet with counterparts from Ukraine, Georgia, Sweden, Finland, and the European Union.
“This will be an occasion for Defense Minister (Oleksii) Reznikov to provide an update on what Ukraine requires most urgently. And for Nato countries to reaffirm their support for Ukraine, “According to Stoltenberg.
The defence ministers will also examine plans to boost up forces along Nato’s eastern flank and abroad, which have accelerated since Russia seized Ukraine.
“With more Nato-forward deployed combat formations to enhance our battlegroups in the East, stronger air, sea, and cyber defences, and pre-positioned equipment and weapon stockpiles, this will imply more presence, more capabilities, and higher readiness,” Stoltenberg said.
He refused to commit to a timetable for Sweden and Finland’s membership in NATO. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is opposing the membership ambitions, claiming that the Nordic countries are aiding Kurdish militants whom Turkey considers terrorists.
“My goal is to resolve this matter as quickly as possible,” Stoltenberg said. “However, because there are multiple governments involved in this process, there is no way to say when we will resolve it.”
“This will take some more time than we originally planned,” he said, citing Turkey’s fears.
Erdogan made it clear on Wednesday that he will not back down.
“We will not modify our position until Sweden and Finland take obvious, real, and resolute efforts in the battle against terrorism,” Erdogan said in a speech to lawmakers from his ruling party.
To admit new members, all 30 NATO countries must agree.
At a meeting in Oslo on Wednesday, British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace stated that the goal for the NATO summit in Madrid is to ensure that “Sweden and Finland are successfully on the next step towards NATO membership.”
“I believe it is critical that we listen to and understand Turkey’s concerns so that we can move toward a position where Turkey will support the accession and we can alleviate any of those worries,” Wallace said.
He went on to say that the West needs to do more to help Ukrainians who are fighting significantly better-equipped Russians.
“Some of the Ukrainian soldiers in the east of the country have been on the front line for 90 days, they are weary, and they are frequently outmanned in artillery terms,” he said.