NATO Leaders Gather in Washington: What Will They Discuss?

The NATO summit begins today in Washington, bringing together Alliance leaders to discuss crucial topics including defense strengthening, support for Ukraine, and addressing global threats from Russia and China

by Sededin Dedovic
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NATO Leaders Gather in Washington: What Will They Discuss?
© Omar Havana / Getty Images

NATO leaders will gather today in Washington for a three-day summit marking the 75th anniversary of the Alliance, which is facing potential external and internal threats. The annual NATO summit runs until July 11, and announced topics include strengthening defense, supporting Ukraine's efforts in defending against the Russian invasion, and strengthening NATO's global partnerships.

With the war in Ukraine, challenges from China, and the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian organization Hamas, the commitment of some key NATO members to defend their allies is being questioned, according to AP.

It is uncertain whether U.S. President Joe Biden will defeat his predecessor, Donald Trump, in the November elections. Trump has a reserved attitude toward the Alliance. The possibility of Trump's return to the White House means a potential reduction in American commitment to the Alliance and assistance to Ukraine in its war against Russia.

Trump has repeatedly hinted that the U.S. would not participate in the defense of NATO members who have not met the set goal of investing 2% of their GDP in defense. Out of 32 NATO members, 23 have reached this standard.

NATO Holds 2023 Summit In Vilnius© Paulius Peleckis / Getty Images

After the poor impression he left in the June 27 pre-election debate with Trump, Biden told the public to follow his activities during the NATO summit, where he will prove he is still capable of leading the U.S.

As for European members of the Alliance, the Washington summit will be the first world stage appearance for the new British Prime Minister Keir Starmer, who has announced continued strong support for NATO and Ukraine. In France, the left-wing coalition won the most votes in the parliamentary elections, but the far-right party National Rally, which is skeptical of NATO, significantly increased its number of seats.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban caused concern with last week's meeting in Moscow with Russian President Vladimir Putin, while Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan continues to maintain good relations with the Kremlin.

Despite this, the Alliance has never looked stronger. Since the start of the Russian attack on Ukraine, the number of NATO members has increased to 32, with Finland and Sweden joining the Alliance. It is expected that the policy of "open doors" for admitting any country that meets the conditions into the Alliance will be confirmed in Washington, but Ukraine will not be invited to join NATO.

Last year, several Alliance members signed bilateral security agreements with Kyiv to ensure long-term assistance to Ukraine. Ukraine's goal is to join the Alliance to ensure the protection represented by the obligation of other NATO members to assist it.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (R) speaks at the announcement of the G7 nations joint declaration for the support of Ukr© Sean Gallup / Getty Images

Membership is unlikely while the war with Russia continues, but it has been announced that Ukraine will be presented with a plan for a "bridge" to membership.

It is expected that Alliance members in Washington will commit to continued military and economic assistance to Kyiv. The foundation should be support amounting to $43 billion annually. NATO members also point to the threat posed by China, citing disinformation campaigns aimed at sowing doubt in democratic systems.

It is claimed that Beijing, by selling technologies to Moscow, enabled the renewal of the foundations of the Russian defense industry to continue the war in Ukraine. Washington has assessed that China is pursuing a policy that threatens European security, while Beijing seeks stronger trade ties with countries in Europe.

For the third consecutive year, leaders from Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and South Korea will participate in the NATO summit to discuss threats from China.

The Russian attack on a children's hospital

The UN Humanitarian Coordinator and the EU's chief diplomat condemned the Russian airstrikes, which Ukrainian authorities said killed at least 36 people and injured over 100 across Ukraine, leaving an unknown number of victims buried under the rubble of Kyiv's Ohmatdyt children's hospital.

The attacks damaged "residential buildings, infrastructure, and a children's hospital," Zelensky announced, adding that more than 40 missiles of different types fell on Kyiv, Dnipro, and Kryvyi Rih in central Ukraine, as well as Kramatorsk and Sloviansk in the eastern Donetsk region.

"All services are engaged to save as many people as possible," Zelensky announced on X. Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko told Reuters that it was "one of the worst" attacks on the capital during the 28-month invasion. "People are under the rubble, and the exact number of victims is not yet known," Zelensky announced on social networks, calling Ohmatdyt "one of the most important children's hospitals not only in Kyiv but also in Europe." Zelensky, who is visiting Warsaw, said that the whole world must use all its determination to finally stop the Russian strikes. "Killing is what Putin brings. Only together can we bring true peace and security," Zelensky added.

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