Stoltenberg says NATO will invite Ukraine to join when conditions are met

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10:13pm: Biden, Erdogan discuss transfer of F-16s to Turkey, Ukraine priorities during meeting

US President Joe Biden and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan discussed defense and economic priorities during a meeting on Tuesday, the White House said, a day after Ankara backed Sweden joining the NATO military alliance.

The Biden administration will move ahead with the transfer of F-16 fighter jets to Turkey in consultation with Congress, national security adviser Jake Sullivan said earlier.

« They also discussed regional issues of shared interest, including their enduring support for Ukraine and the importance of preserving stability in the Aegean, » the White House said in a statement after their meeting.

5:59pm: ‘Ukraine will make NATO stronger’, Zelensky says in Vilnius

Ukraine will make NATO stronger, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told a crowd in central Vilnius during a NATO summit in the town, adding that the military alliance would make his country safer and it deserved to be allowed to join.

« NATO will make Ukraine safer, Ukraine will make NATO stronger », he said.

5:50pm:Moscow says Russian forces advanced 1.5km in eastern Ukraine

Russian forces have advanced 1.5 kilometres near the town of Lyman in eastern Ukraine, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Tuesday.

Russian forces repelled a Ukrainian offensive in the area and « having defeated it, Russian units launched a counterattack, advancing 1.5 kilometres (0.9 miles) along two kilometres of the front », Shoigu said in images shown on Russian state television.

5:33pm:Russia says it would use similar weapons if US supplies cluster bombs to Ukraine

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Tuesday that Moscow would be forced to use « similar » means of attack if the United States supplied cluster bombs to Ukraine, Russian news agencies reported.

The US announced last week it would supply Ukraine with widely-banned cluster munitions for its counteroffensive against Russian forces.

Shoigu was quoted as saying that Russia was in possession of cluster munitions but had so far refrained from using them in its military campaign.

Both Ukraine and Russia have already been accused of using the weapons in the war in Ukraine.

5:14pm: Stoltenberg says China ‘increasingly challenging rules-based international order’

China is increasingly challenging the rules-based international order, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told a news conference as the military alliance met for a summit in Vilnius.

Alliance partners should continue to engage in dialogue with China, Stoltenberg added.

REPLAY: NATO’s Stoltenberg addresses Vilnius press conference

5:10pm:NATO summit declaration says ‘Ukraine’s future is in NATO’

NATO leaders have agreed at a summit in Vilnius that Ukraine’s future lies within the Alliance but stopped short of handing Kyiv the invitation or timetable for accession that the country has been seeking.

At the same time, NATO dropped the requirement for Ukraine to fulfil a so-called Membership Action Plan (MAP), effectively removing a hurdle on Kyiv’s way into the Alliance.

« Ukraine’s future is in NATO, » a declaration agreed by the leaders on Tuesday said, adding Kyiv’s Euro-Atlantic integration had moved beyond the need for a Membership Action Plan.

« We will be in a position to extend an invitation to Ukraine to join the Alliance when allies agree and conditions are met, » the declaration said.

While leaders did not specify the conditions Ukraine needs to meet, they said the Alliance would help Kyiv to make progress on military interoperability as well as on additional democratic and security sector reforms.

5:03pm:NATO allies agree language on Ukraine membership pathway to NATO

NATO leaders have reached agreement over how to define their future relationship with Ukraine, including its membership bid, four diplomats said on Tuesday.

One of the diplomats said the final wording on the declaration regarding Ukraine’s future membership read that NATO « will be in a position to extend an invitation to join the Alliance when Allies agree and conditions are met.

4:50pm: Ukrainian pilots will start training for F-16 jets in August, say officials

A coalition of 11 nations will start training Ukrainian pilots to fly F-16 fighter jets in August in Denmark, while a training centre will also be set up in Romania, officials said on Tuesday.

Ukraine Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov tweeted his gratitude to Denmark and the Netherlands, saying that their leadership had been key in organising the coalition.

« Hopefully we will be able to see results in the beginning of next year, » Denmark’s acting defence minister Troels Lund Poulsen told reporters on the sidelines of a summit of NATO leaders in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius.

NATO members Denmark and the Netherlands have been leading efforts by an international coalition to train pilots and support staff, maintain aircraft and ultimately supply F-16s to Ukraine.

3:22pm: Russian army to receive new missile carriers in 2023, reports RIA agency

The Russian army will receive two new and two modernised strategic missile carriers this year, the RIA news agency cited the Russian defence ministry as saying on Tuesday.

3:12pm:Ukraine’s Zelensky lands in Vilnius, says NATO’s ‘absurd’ plan for Ukraine falls short

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky landed on Tuesday in Vilnius where NATO member country leaders at a summit were set to discuss a possible Ukrainian membership in the Alliance.

Zelensky earlier on Tuesday said on Twitter he saw « no readiness, neither to invite Ukraine to NATO nor to make it a member ».

2:32pm: Kremlin says Turkey should have no illusion over its EU bid

Turkey should be under no illusion that it might one day be allowed to join the European Union, the Kremlin said on Tuesday, as Moscow stressed its desire for strong relations with Ankara despite disagreements, including over NATO enlargement.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was responding to a question about NATO member Turkey’s decision to lift its opposition to Sweden joining the alliance on the eve of a two-day NATO summit in Lithuania.

« Turkey can orient itself to the West, we know that in the history of the Republic of Turkey there were periods of intensive orientation to the West, there were periods of less intensive ones, » he told a daily news briefing. « But we also know that… no one wants to see Turkey in Europe, I mean the Europeans. And here our Turkish partners should not wear rose-tinted spectacles either, » he said. He was alluding to long-standing EU resistance to admitting Turkey, a large, relatively poor Muslim country adjoining the Middle East. It first applied to join the bloc in 1987.

Peskov said Russia understood that Turkey had to fulfil its obligations as a NATO member over Sweden, but he added that Moscow wanted to continue to build mutually beneficial relations with Ankara despite « all disagreements ».

1:43pm:France begins delivery of long-range cruise missiles to Ukraine, military source said

France has started delivering a significant number of SCALP cruise missiles to Ukraine, which will be integrated into non-Western warplanes, a French military source said on Tuesday.

The missiles, which can reach 250 km (about 160 miles, would only be used within Ukraine’s internationally-recognised borders, the source told reporters in a briefing at a NATO summit in Lithuania.

Paris did not consider it as an escalation given that Russia was firing missiles with a much larger range, the source added.

1:37pm:UK’s Sunak, Turkey’s Erdogan agree on need to extend Black Sea grain deal

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan agreed on the importance of extending the Black Sea grain deal that allows Ukraine to export grain from its Black Sea ports, Sunak’s office said on Tuesday.

« President Erdoan updated the Prime Minister on (Ukrainian) President Zelenskyys recent visit to Trkiye and the leaders agreed on the importance of ensuring an extension to the Black Sea Grain Deal, » Sunak’s office said in a statement after the two leaders met at a NATO summit in Lithuania.

1:18pm:Norway steps up military aid to Ukraine

Norway’s government said Tuesday it was pledging an additional 2.5 billion kroner ($240 million) of military aid to Ukraine, bringing the total to 10 billion for the year. « The defensive war being waged by Ukraine (…) is being waged now. It is now that is really necessary, » Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Gahr Store told reporters on the sidelines of the NATO summit in Vilnius.

The funds will be taken from a 75-billion-kroner purse the Scandinavian country has earmarked for civilian and military aid to Ukraine over the period 2023 to 2027.

In practice, Oslo will this year allocate 10 billion kroner to military aid and 7.5 billion to civilian support, rather than the 7.5 billion initially planned for each. Store did not specify how the funds would be used or what equipment would be purchased. He also announced that his country would be contributing 300 million kroner each year to NATO’s support fund for Ukraine, over a period of five years.

Norway earlier this year joined a slew of Western nations pledging tanks to Ukraine and delivered eight of the German-made Leopard 2 tanks. In addition it has donated other armoured vehicles, multiple rocket launcher systems and artillery shells.

1:12pm:Turkey expects concrete steps for EU accession after Sweden NATO approval, says senior official

Turkey expects a European Union reform group to be revived after Ankara approves Sweden’s NATO membership as Turkey seeks to enter a new period of improved ties with the West, a senior Turkish official told Reuters on Tuesday.

Ankara expects concrete progress from the EU on issues such as visa-free travel, as well as closing some chapters on EU accession, the official said, adding that the West needs to support Turkey in its financial needs.

Turkey will develop a « reasonable » relationship with the United States and expects the swift resolution of some problems, even though all issues may not be solved, the person said. Ankara will not harm its relations with Russia as it moves closer to the West, the official added.

12:53pm:Russia sees no grounds for peace talks with Ukraine, says Russian upperhouse speaker Valentina Matviyenko

Russia sees no grounds for peace talks with Ukraine, the Interfax news agency cited Russian upperhouse speaker Valentina Matviyenko as saying on Tuesday during a visit to China.

12:30pm:Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says Russia will respond ‘appropriately’ to NATO expansion

Russia is taking « appropriate » andtimely measures in response to the possible accession of Sweden and Ukraine to the NATO military alliance, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Tuesday.

Speaking on the first day of a NATO summit in Vilnius that is expected to send a « positive » message to Ukraine about its future hopes of joining the alliance, Lavrov said Russia would protect its own « legitimate security interests ».

12:26pm:Zelensky says ‘absurd’ if Ukraine is not offered timeframe for NATO membership

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said it would be absurd if Ukraine is not offered a timeframe for NATO membership at an alliance summit starting in Vilnius on Tuesday.

« Its unprecedented and absurd when (a) time frame is not set, neither for the invitation (to join NATO) nor for Ukraine’s membership. While at the same time vague wording about ‘conditions’ is added even for inviting Ukraine, » he wrote in English on the Telegram messaging app.

He said lingering uncertainty over Ukraine’s NATO membership would provide Russia with « motivation to continue its terror ».

Indicating that he would attend the summit, he said: « Uncertainty is weakness. And I will openly discuss this at the summit ».

12:15pm:Scholz, Erdogan to discuss Turkey’s relationship to EU at NATO summit

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz will speak to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan about the country’s relationship to the European Union at this week’s NATO summit, the German leader said in Vilnius on Tuesday.

« We have made decisions at the European Council on how we can further develop the relationship between the European Union and Turkey, and I will also talk to President Erdogan here, » Scholz said.

12:11pm:Romania may lift defence spending past 2.5% of GDP in a few years, president says

Romania could raise its defence spending to more than the current level of 2.5 percent of gross domestic product in the future, President Klaus Iohannis said on Tuesday after arriving for a NATO summit in Vilnius.

Romania will also support a higher commitment of NATO allies to meet defence spending pledges of at least 2 percent of GDP. « We believe that 2 percent of GDP should not be the maximum ceiling, but the base from which we start, » he said.

11:58am:Latvia’s defence spend could reach 3% of GDP by next year, PM says

Latvia’s spending on defence could reach 3 percent of GDP already next year, Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins said on Tuesday.

« We’re planning on hitting 3 percent on spending on defence in 2027, » Karins told reporters at a NATO summit in Vilnius. « My finance minister says that if we move forward with the advanced weapons purchases we could hit 3 percent as early as next year ».

11:53am:Kremlin says moving NATO infrastructure towards Russia’s borders is a mistake

European leaders do not seem to understand that moving NATO infrastructure towards Russia’s borders is a mistake, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Tuesday.

Peskov, speaking as a NATO summit opens in Vilnius, told a news briefing that the Western military alliance’s advance into central and eastern Europe had led to the current crisis around Ukraine in the first place.

11:45am:Kremlin says French missile supplies to Ukraine will have consequences

The Kremlin said Tuesday it would respond to a decision by France to supply Kyiv with long-range missiles that could help Ukraine strike targets deep behind Russian lines.

« From our point of view, this decision is a mistake with consequences for the Ukrainian side, because this will of course force us to take countermeasures, » Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

11:28am:France to send long-range ‘SCALP’ missiles to Ukraine, Macron says

France will begin supplying long-range SCALP missiles to Ukraine, French President Emmanuel Macron said on Tuesday.

« We have decided to deliver new missiles to Ukraine that will allow strikes deep into Ukrainian territory, » Macron said upon his arrival at the summit in Vilnius, without specifying the number of missiles that will be delivered.

« I think today what is important for us is to send a message of support for Ukraine, of NATO unity and of determination that Russia cannot, must not, win this war, » he added.

The SCALP/Storm Shadow is an Anglo-French weapon with a range of 250 kilometres (155 miles), the longest of any Western weapon supplied to Ukraine so far.

The Kremlin was quick to respond to the French decision, denouncing it as a « mistake ».

10:37am:NATO’s Stoltenberg says organisation has not seen any movement of Wagner fighters to Belarus

NATO has not seen any movement of Wagner Group fighters to Belarus, Russia’s ally in its war against Ukraine, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Tuesday.

« We are monitoring the situation very closely, » Stoltenberg told journalists ahead of NATO’s two-day summit in Vilnius. Over the week-end, Poland began moving over 1,000 troops to the east of the country amid rising concern in the NATO member that the presence of Wagner Group fighters in Belarus could lead to increased tension on its border.

10:22am:No changes in Russia’s nuclear posture, NATO chief says

NATO has not seen a change in Russia’s nuclear posture despite its announcement that it is stationing nuclear weapons in Belarus, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Tuesday.

« The nuclear rhetoric of Russia is reckless and dangerous. NATO allies are monitoring closely what Russia is doing; so far we haven’t seen any changes in the Russian nuclear deployment posture that requires a change from us, but we will remain vigilant, » Stoltenberg said before a summit of NATO leaders in Vilnius.

10:13am:NATO allies will send clear and positive message to Ukraine, says NATO secretary-general

NATO allies will make clear at their summit in Vilnius how Ukraine can become a member of the alliance in the future, Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Tuesday.

« I expect allies will send a clear, united and positive message on the path towards membership for Ukraine, » Stoltenberg said as he arrived for the start of a summit with leaders of NATO member countries.

10:06am: ‘No NATO member will accept a country with an active conflict on its territory,’ says FRANCE 24’s Teri Schultz

United States national security advisor Jake Sullivan’s remarks that Ukraine would have to make further reforms before being accepted into NATO are unlikely to « enlighten the Ukrainian mood », FRANCE 24’sTeri Schultz says on the sidelines of the NATO summit in Vilnius.

Watch Schultz explain why the active conflict raging on Ukraine’s territory will likely prevent the alliance from bringing the embattled country into its ranks:

9:52am:Russia says US arms supplies to Ukraine signal lack of interest in diplomacy

By announcing plans to increase arms supplies to Ukraine, the United States makes clear that it is not interested in a diplomatic solution, the RIA news agency cited senior Russian diplomat Konstantin Gavrilov as saying on Tuesday.

Gavrilov also said in comments published on the day of a NATO summit in Lithuania that Europe would be the first to face « catastrophic consequences » if the war escalates.

9:20am:Europe to face ‘catastrophic consequences’ if Ukraine war escalates, says Russian diplomat

Europe will be the first to face « catastrophic consequences » if the Ukraine war escalates, the RIA news agency cited Konstantin Gavrilov, a Vienna-based Russian diplomat and senior security negotiator, as saying on Tuesday.

Gavrilov, who blamed the United States for pushing towards such an escalation, spoke as NATO countries held a summit in Vilnius.

8:57am: Thwarted Russian drone attack in Odesa targeted grain facilities, governor says

Ukraine said Tuesday that Russian attack drones overnight had targeted grain facilities at the southern port of Odesa, one of three maritime terminals key to an expiring export agreement between Moscow and Kyiv.

The air defense forces did not allow the enemys plan to attack the grain terminal of one of the ports of Odesa to be realised, the regional governor, Oleg Kiper, said in a statement, while the military said it had downed a total of 26 Russian attack drones in the latest barrage.

8:55am: Hungary says ratification of Swedens NATO bid now just a technicality

Hungarys ratification of Swedens NATO bid is now only a technical question, Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said Tuesday, after Turkey agreed to allow the Nordic country to join the alliance.

Hungary and Turkey are the last NATO members that still need to ratify Swedens accession.

8:52am: US to move forward with transfer of F-16 jets to Turkey

US President Joe Biden will move forward with the transfer of F-16 fighter jets to Turkey in consultation with Congress, US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said on Tuesday.

He has placed no caveats on this … He intends to move forward with that transfer, Sullivan said but did not give any details on the timing.

Late on Monday, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan agreed to forward to parliament Swedens bid to become a member of the NATO military alliance, following months of pressure by the United States and its allies.

Some NATO partners believe that Turkey, which requested in October 2021 to buy $20 billion of Lockheed Martin Corp F-16 fighters and nearly 80 modernisation kits for its existing warplanes, has been using Swedish membership to pressure Washington on the warplanes.

8:42am: Ukraine has come a long way, NATO chief says on removing an accession hurdle

Ukraine has come a long way since we made the decision in 2008 that the next step would be a Membership Action Plan. Ukraine is much closer to NATO, so I think the time has come to reflect that in NATO decisions, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Tuesday, saying members of the alliance should agree to remove the requirement of a Membership Action Plan for Ukraine to become a member in the future.

All put together, including that well make clear that Ukraine will become a member, well remove the Membership Action Plan … will send a very strong and positive message from NATO to Ukraine, he said ahead of the two-day NATO summit that starts in Vilnius on Tuesday.

8:06am: NATO to give path, but no timetable for Ukraine to join

NATO will lay out a path of reforms for Ukraine so that it can eventually join the alliance, but without giving a timetable, White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said Tuesday.

Sullivan was speaking to reporters as negotiators from the 31-strong alliance were finalising a final communiqu to outline Kyivs pathway to membership.

A reform path for Ukraine will be drawn up but I cant put a timetable on it, Sullivan said.

Separate to the issue of membership, NATO countries are discussing concrete interim security measures to offer Ukraine, beyond the current aid pouring in to help Kyivs military push back the Russians.

Sullivan said this would be discussed during a meeting Wednesday between US President Joe Biden and his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky.

7:26am: NATO smooths path to Ukrainian membership

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has put forward a package that includes the removal of the requirement for a Membership Action Plan (MAP) a list of political, economic and military goals that other Eastern European nations had to meet before joining the alliance.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who is expected to attend the summit, wants a clear invitation to join the alliance after Russias war on Ukraine ends and security guarantees until that time.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba tweeted that there had been a consensus among allies to drop MAP, but added: It is also the best moment to offer clarity on the invitation to Ukraine to become (a) member. »

4:00am:Russia launches overnight air attack on Kyiv

Russia launched an overnight air strike on Kyiv, with air defence systems engaged in repelling the attack, Serhiy Popko, head of the military administration of the Ukrainian capital, said on the Telegram messaging app.

« The enemy attacked Kyiv from the air for the second time this month, Serhiy Popko, a head of Kyiv’s military administration, said in a post on the Telegram channel.

According to preliminary information, Ukraine’s air defence systems shot down all the Iranian-made Shahed drones Russia launched before they reached their targets, Popko said.

There was no immediate information about damage or casualties. Air raid alerts blasted over Kyiv for an hour and longer in other parts of Ukraine’s east, according to Ukraine’s Air Force.

3:00am:Russian diplomats berate US, NATO over Ukraine

The US is pushing NATO to the « most unfavourable » confrontation with Moscow with the decisions expected from the alliance’s summit in Lithuania this week, while Kyiv’s allies are « losing » in Ukraine, Russian diplomats said late on Monday.

The Kremlin has been angered by the solidarity withUkraine at the NATO summit which starts on Tuesday, saying Kyiv’s potential membership in the alliance would be a threat to Russia and Moscow will react clearly and firmly.

Russian Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov said the United States is preparing anti-Russian decisions at the NATO summit.

« Everything is being done to prepare the local public opinion for the approval of any anti-Russian decisions that will be made in Vilnius in the coming days, » Antonov said in a post on the embassy’s Telegram channel.

12:56am:Zelensky says he understands Ukraine will be in NATO

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Monday he expects the NATO summit in Vilnius to confirm that Ukraine is already a « de facto » member of the military alliance and work out an « algorithm » for Kyiv to officially join it.

« When we applied for membership of NATO, we spoke frankly: de facto, Ukraine is already in the alliance. Our weapons are the weapons of the alliance. Our values are what the alliance believes in. … Vilnius must confirm all this, » Zelensky said in his nightly video address.

« We are still working on the wording, that is, on the specific words of such confirmation, but we already understand the fact that Ukraine will be in the alliance, and we are working to make the algorithm for gaining membership as clear and fast as possible. »

Key developments from Monday, July 10:

Turkey on Monday announced it was withdrawing its objections to Sweden joining the alliance, a step toward the unity that Western leaders have been eager to demonstrate in the face of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the majority of NATO members stand with his country and that the summit in Vilnius must confirm Ukraine as a de facto member of the military alliance.

Kyiv said that Ukrainian troops had captured key heights around the eastern city of Bakhmut in its counteroffensive.

Read yesterday’s live blog to see how all the day’s events unfolded.

France Mdias Monde graphic studio

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP and Reuters)

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