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Sunday, May 19, 2024

NATO Summit: Biden on Ukraine, Cluster Bombs & Russian Interceptions

Ahead of the two-day summit of NATO leaders in Vilnius, US President Joe Biden has stated that Ukraine is “not ready” for NATO membership. Speaking to CNN, President Biden emphasized the need for NATO to establish a rational path for Kyiv to follow in order to join the alliance. He acknowledged that Ukraine still has to meet various qualifications, including democratization and other important issues, before becoming a member.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy of Ukraine expressed hope for a positive outcome from the summit following discussions with Polish President Andrzej Duda. While Zelenskiy does not expect Ukraine to join NATO during the ongoing conflict, he anticipates that the summit will provide a clear indication of the alliance’s intention to bring Ukraine into its fold.

President Biden has arrived in London for the NATO summit and is scheduled to hold talks on the Ukraine situation with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. Furthermore, Biden recently had a phone conversation with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, expressing his desire to see Sweden join NATO as soon as possible. The United States has been pressuring Turkey to drop its opposition to Sweden’s membership bid prior to the Vilnius summit.

The NATO meeting takes place amid concerns raised by members of Biden’s own Democratic party, human rights groups, and the UN regarding the US decision to send cluster bombs to Ukraine. The use of cluster bombs, banned by more than 100 countries, has raised objections due to the potential precedent it could set for other nations.

In Germany, President Frank-Walter Steinmeier stated that while Germany maintains its opposition to the use of cluster munitions, it would not impede the US from sending them to Ukraine. He emphasized the importance of not obstructing the United States given the current circumstances.

Russian officials reported that Russian air defense systems intercepted four missiles on Sunday, one over Crimea and three over Russia’s Rostov and Bryansk regions bordering Ukraine. Buildings in Rostov and Bryansk suffered damage, but no casualties were reported. There were no reported casualties or damage in Crimea.

Colonel General Oleksandr Syrskyi, the commander of Ukraine’s ground forces, announced that Ukrainian forces are making progress in the vicinity of the eastern city of Bakhmut. Russian forces captured Bakhmut in May after intense fighting but are believed to be encountering difficulties in maintaining control.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa confirmed that the upcoming Brics summit, to which Vladimir Putin has been invited, will be held in-person despite an arrest warrant against the Russian leader. Ramaphosa stated that discussions on the format of the summit are being finalized, and it will be a physical meeting.

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