NATO ministers meet in Prague: What Ukraine can expect from July summit

Monday, 3 June 2024 —

The foreign ministers meeting in Prague, which ended on Friday, had an informal status – no ambassadors or assistants, only the ministers and top NATO leaders.

This meeting aimed for candid discussions about the upcoming "anniversary" NATO summit in Washington, marking the Alliance's 75th year. For the US, where President Biden is running for re-election, a successful summit is crucial, meaning all members, including increasingly pro-Russian Hungary, must agree on decisions.

Read more about the discussions in the Czech capital and their outcomes in the article by Sergiy Sydorenko, a European Pravda editor (from Prague) – 40 billion for the Armed Forces and strikes on Russia: What NATO ministers agreed on in Prague.

Although the ministers met in Prague primarily to prepare for the NATO summit, the main messages of their statements, as well as those of the NATO Secretary-General, turned out to be different.


The intensification of fighting in Kharkiv Oblast and the shelling of Kharkiv by Russian forces raised the pressing issue of how Ukraine can counter Russian aggression when it is prohibited from striking back with weapons provided by Western partners.

The last days of May were pivotal in resolving this issue. As is known, the United States was primarily opposed to strikes on Russian territory.

However, the battle for Kharkiv Oblast convinced many capitals of the need to act against the American taboo.

A true revolution occurred when the NATO Secretary-General, who almost never acts against the US will, became an open advocate for Ukrainian strikes on Russia.

Under such public and well-argued pressure, the Biden administration relented. The White House informed Kyiv that it was lifting the total ban, but limiting the use of weapons to "border areas." The ban on hitting targets further from the border, including military facilities, remained.

While the new rules on using weapons by Ukrainian forces are not directly related to the NATO summit itself, another topic that sparked discussions in Prague is directly connected to the upcoming leaders' meeting in Washington.

Jens Stoltenberg came up with an idea that NATO leaders at the July summit should approve long-term financing for Ukraine.

The NATO Secretary-General proposed in Prague to annually allocate 40 billion euros or dollars to Ukraine for weapons.

"Allies have provided approximately 40 billion euros worth of military support to Ukraine each year. We must maintain at least this level of support each year, for as long as necessary," he said.

A mechanism for coordination and burden-sharing among capitals should emerge. The Secretary-General suggests that each country's contribution should depend on its GDP.

NATO needs to agree on all this within the month remaining before the summit so that the agreed decision can be formally approved in Washington.

But to achieve this, the Hungarian issue needs to be resolved. The government of Viktor Orban immediately opposed the new aid scheme for Ukraine.

Finally, another topic of discussion is Ukraine's future NATO membership. While Washington was not ready for progress on membership at all until recently, now there are very cautious positive signals.

Another potential political achievement of the summit is about security agreements between Ukraine and its partners. Kyiv's idea is to arrive at the Washington summit with an "umbrella" multilateral agreement that unites all security agreements.

"Ukraine has already signed security agreements with 15 countries. I expect many more will be concluded by the time of the summit. We'll bring them all together to show how powerful that commitment is," explained US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

And most importantly, all key players, including the US, agree that these security agreements should not become a "substitute for membership," but instead should function until Ukraine joins the Alliance. No one currently publicly questions that Ukraine will eventually become a NATO member.

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