Plan unveiled to bring Ukraine 'closer' to Nato alliance as world leaders hold talks in Lithuania

12 July 2023, 12:18 | Updated: 12 July 2023, 12:21

Volodymyr Zelenskyy with world leaders at the Nato summit
Volodymyr Zelenskyy with world leaders at the Nato summit. Picture: Alamy

By Asher McShane

A three-part 'multi-year' package to bring “Ukraine closer to Nato” was announced today at a world leaders’ summit in Lithuania.

Secretary General of Nato Jens Stoltenberg today announced the plans to establish “a new Nato-Ukraine council, reaffirming that Ukraine will become a member of Nato and removing the requirement for the membership action plans”.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has previously criticised a lack of timescale for the country to join the alliance, saying it was 'absurd'.

Jens Stoltenberg said he looks forward to the day “we meet as allies” with Ukraine
Jens Stoltenberg said he looks forward to the day “we meet as allies” with Ukraine. Picture: Alamy

The announcement came after Rishi Sunak and Mr Zelenskyy met for bilateral talks on the fringes of the Nato summit in Vilnius.

The Prime Minister suggested the pair meet without aides present, with the Ukrainian president agreeing that there should be "only two" of them in the room.

Mr Sunak told his counterpart: "It is good to see you here at Nato where you belong."

Mr Zelenskyy thanked Mr Sunak for helping secure additional security guarantees for Kyiv, with a G7 deal due to be signed on Wednesday in the Lithuanian capital.

Mr Zelenskyy also tweeted about his meeting with Mr Sunak.

He said: "The meeting with Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Rishi Sunak has begun.

"Our negotiations always enhance global security! More news to come."

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Rishi Sunak hailed the bravery of Ukrainian troops as he met Zelenskyy at the Nato summit
Rishi Sunak hailed the bravery of Ukrainian troops as he met Zelenskyy at the Nato summit. Picture: Alamy

He said he wanted to use his meeting to talk about security guarantees for Kyiv.

Mr Sunak told him there had been "real progress" on that matter. The Prime Minister said: "What your soldiers are doing on the front line, it is inspiring to everyone.

"We're proud to have played a part in training some of them.

"They have served with enormous bravery and courage."

Mr Zelenskyy said the training missions in the UK had been "very important", with Mr Sunak adding it was clear the exercises had "been put to good use".

Mr Sunak said a G7 security agreement marked the "new high point in support" for Ukraine but was not a "substitute" for Nato membership.

In a readout of the meeting between the Prime Minister and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, a Downing Street spokeswoman said: "The Prime Minister welcomed the fact that the MAP (membership action plan) requirement for Ukraine had now been removed, smoothing the path to full Nato membership in the future.

"The Prime Minister and the president agreed on the importance of the security arrangements to be announced by the G7 this afternoon.

"They marked a new high point in support from the international community and would give Ukraine an even greater level of endurance against Russian aggression, the Prime Minister said.

"Both agreed the arrangements will not be a substitute for Nato membership and looked forward to building on the new security framework as soon as possible."

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