Biden and NATO leaders enter summit with force as Turkey accepts Sweden’s membership.

After Turkey accepted Sweden’s NATO membership proposal on Monday night, President Joe Biden and alliance leaders entered Tuesday’s high-stakes NATO Summit with renewed solidarity.

“Thank you, Mr. President, for hosting this historic summit at an important time. “The first time NATO leaders will meet, 31, together, and looking forward to meeting very soon with 32 members with the addition of Sweden,” Biden said as he began a bilateral discussion with summit host Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda.

“I’m confident we’ll get that done,” Biden said.

A month into Ukraine’s slow counteroffensive and weeks after a failed Russian mutiny threatened President Vladimir Putin’s leadership, the leaders meet in Vilnius, Lithuania, for a two-day summit that could be one of the alliance’s most important.

National security experts had warned that a failure to admit Sweden to NATO could lead to alliance cracks, but Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who has blocked the accession bid for more than a year, reversed course on Monday evening.

Biden and others have praised the alliance’s unparalleled solidarity in the face of Russia’s war, which gives leaders a strong showing going into the summit.

“We’re coming into this consequential summit with a full head of steam,” national security advisor Jake Sullivan told reporters in Vilnius Tuesday morning.

“At the NATO summit, our alliance will be bigger, stronger, more united, more purposeful, and more energised than ever before. “And that’s largely due to President Biden’s personal leadership,” he continued.

Sullivan said Turkey’s decision was “the product of direct talks among the three parties to that agreement,” but the US “had significant recent engagement with everyone involved,” citing Biden’s hosting of Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson at the White House last week, his call to Erdoğan on Sunday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s engagement with his Swedish and Turkish counterparts, and his own engagement with his counterparts.

He warned that the Vilnius summit will “very much disappoint” Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The summit’s publicity inflated rumours of NATO’s unity’s death. Every few months, “Can the West hold together?” NATO’s survival? Sullivan stated.

“Every time allies gather, that question is re-asked, and every time they answer it forcefully and vehemently: ‘Yes we can.’ Putin expects NATO, the West, and the Transatlantic Alliance to break. He’s always disappointed.”

Since Erdoğan is on board, Hungary is anticipated to remove its concerns and the Swedes will join the alliance after a Turkish parliamentary procedure.

Following the news, Biden urged for “swift ratification,” and Sullivan said Tuesday that the US looks forward to “welcoming Sweden as NATO’s 32nd ally in the near future.”

Positive signal
This week, the US president will address other important issues in Vilnius, including his contentious decision to deliver cluster munitions to Ukraine, which are prohibited by more than 100 nations, including some significant allies. President Volodymyr Zelensky is set to attend on Wednesday and meet with Biden to discuss a path for Ukraine to join NATO and security assistance.

Since Zelensky’s summit attendance was in doubt, the meeting will show unity. NATO leaders are divided over how to bring Ukraine into the alliance and Russia’s campaign in Ukraine.

Biden stated Tuesday that he agreed on proposed language for Ukraine’s potential NATO membership, seconds after Zelensky criticised it as not going far enough towards his admission ambitions. Biden told CNN’s Fareed Zakaria last week that Ukraine cannot join NATO until Russia’s aggression in Ukraine ends.

“We agree on the language we and you proposed regarding Ukraine’s NATO membership. “We want a united NATO,” Biden stated at the conference with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

Stoltenberg later declared that NATO has eased Ukraine’s membership standards. He claimed allied countries “agreed to remove the requirements for membership action,” making Ukraine’s membership path “two-step to a one-step process.” Ukraine “will become a NATO member,” the NATO head said.

Zelensky tweeted before Biden arrived at the conference that he has “received signals that certain wording is being discussed without Ukraine,” emphasising that the “wording is about the invitation to become NATO member, not about Ukraine’s membership.”

“It’s unprecedented and absurd when neither the invitation nor Ukraine’s membership has a timeframe. Inviting Ukraine with ambiguous “conditions.” Zelensky observed, “Uncertainty is weakness.” I will publicly discuss this during the summit.”

Sullivan didn’t forecast Ukraine’s alliance date.

“I can’t schedule it. “You won’t see that from here,” he said. “From our perspective, the alliance with Ukraine should lay out that reform path and have Ukraine work towards it.”

Article 5.
In his interview with Zakaria, Biden called sending cluster munitions to Ukraine a “difficult decision” but necessary because Ukraine is running low on ammunition.

“Signatory to a convention, which prohibits the production or use of cluster munitions and discourages their use,” UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak told reporters over the weekend.

Sullivan stated earlier in the week that the US has not received any negative response from partners since Biden’s decision to send cluster munitions. On Tuesday, he stressed the relocation is temporary.

Since we started ramping up unitary round production months ago, we consider that temporary. “Once it hits a level where unitary round production can satisfy Ukraine’s needs, then there will be no need to continue giving cluster munitions,” he said, declining to specify a date owing to usage rates and the defence industrial base meeting output targets.

Cluster munitions include tens to hundreds of tiny bomblets, while unitary rounds have one explosive charge.

Sullivan continued, “We were not prepared to leave Ukraine defenceless, period. When it came down to it, our choice was, despite the complexity, despite the challenges, despite the potential of civilian death connected with cluster munitions, the risk of leaving Ukraine without the ordnance it required was greater.”

Biden underlined the US’ “commitment to NATO” and Article 5, which states that an attack on one NATO member is an attack on all, during a ceremonial welcome ceremony and bilateral meeting with Nausėda on Tuesday.

We take Article 5 literally. One inch of NATO territory unites us against whoever violates it. He promised to defend every inch.

Sullivan said Biden is interacting with Congress members at the event.

He will greet Nausėda and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, who just extended his term. NATO leaders will take a family portrait before their first summit. On Tuesday, Biden will meet with Erdoğan on the margins of the summit to discuss “(enhance) defence and deterrence in the Euro-Atlantic area,” according to his statement.

Biden landed in Vilnius on Monday evening after meeting with Sunak at No. 10 Downing Street and discussing climate change with King Charles III at Windsor Castle, his first encounter with the monarch since his coronation.

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