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NATO affirms ‘strong bridge’ promise for Ukraine’s membership math

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NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Wednesday that the organization’s promise of a ‘strong bridge’ to the membership for Ukraine reaffirms allies’ unwavering support on the path to the European country’s membership, but he noted that the country’s membership would not be immediate.

“To invite a new ally, we need consensus. All allies agree that Ukraine will become a member but it’s too early to say when that will happen,” he told reporters.

“But it’s too early to say exactly when that will happen. What I can say is that we are moving, together with Ukraine, Ukraine closer and closer to NATO membership.”

Stoltenberg said allies will agree on Ukraine’s eventual membership in a “strong message” that will be part of a NATO declaration that is expected to be released later Wednesday. He added that the alliance’s plans to set up a new NATO command at a headquarters in Germany, as well as logistics hubs in eastern flank nations, which will be used to facilitate military assistance to Kyiv are part of the “concrete actions” the alliance is taking to “move Ukraine closer to our membership.”

Other steps include a “long-term pledge” to maintain aid, and ongoing efforts to increase military interoperability between NATO allies and Ukrainian forces.

Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine is certain to feature prominently in this week’s discussions as NATO pushes for allies to spend beyond its long-standing goal of 2% of gross domestic product on defense.

Stoltenberg said Tuesday that the 2% goal is now a bare minimum that allies should seek to spend, largely due to concerns prompted by Russia’s “special military operation.”

Asked about concerns within the alliance prompted by the prospect of ex-U.S. President Donald Trump’s re-election in November, Stoltenberg said “regardless of the outcome of the U.S. elections, the U.S. will remain a strong and staunch NATO Ally.”

“The main criticism from former President Trump, and also from others, against NATO has actually not primarily been against NATO. It has been against NATO allies not spending enough on NATO. And this has really changed. Just over the last years, we have seen a dramatic increase in defense spending across Europe and Canada, and a record high number of allies are now meeting the target of spending 2% and those allies who are not yet there, they have clear plans in place to be at 2% soon,” he added.

Source: DailySabah

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