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Ukraine’s NATO future secured, but war’s end a prerequisite

On Wednesday, NATO’s 32 members formally declared that Ukraine is on an “irreversible” path to membership in the Western military alliance, providing a stronger assurance of protection once its conflict with Russia concludes.

In a joint statement from their summit in Washington, NATO member countries, including the U.S., Netherlands, and Denmark, announced steps to bolster Ukraine’s defenses. This includes the delivery of the first NATO-provided F-16s to Ukrainian military pilots by summer.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy expressed gratitude for the efforts to strengthen his air force, following one of the deadliest strikes of the war.

NATO also announced a long-term commitment to security assistance for Ukraine and confirmed the establishment of a new NATO center to ensure a steady flow of arms and training. However, these commitments still fall short of the power Ukraine needs to defeat Russian forces.

The final statement called China a “decisive enabler” of Russia’s war against Ukraine due to its provision of weapon components.

“Ukraine’s future is in NATO,” alliance members stated. “We will continue to support it on its irreversible path to full Euro-Atlantic integration, including NATO membership.”

The alliance welcomed Ukraine’s reforms needed to join and said it would receive an invitation “when Allies agree and conditions are met.”

While the leaders pledged to help Ukraine defend itself in the ongoing war, they did not explicitly state that Ukraine should prevail over Russia. They emphasized that “NATO does not seek confrontation, and poses no threat to Russia. We remain willing to maintain channels of communication with Moscow to mitigate risk and prevent escalation.”

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg stressed that Ukraine would not join the alliance immediately but insisted it must happen after the war to ensure Russia never attacks Ukraine again.

Stoltenberg emphasized, “We are not doing this because we want to prolong a war. We are doing it because we want to end a war as soon as possible.”

He also defended the military alliance when questioned about the possibility of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump withdrawing U.S. support for NATO if elected. Trump has been a central topic at the summit, especially among Eastern European governments fearing future Russian aggression.

Stoltenberg noted that criticism from the U.S., without naming Trump, has been about NATO allies not investing enough in NATO, which has changed.

Also Read: Zelenskyy urges global action against Putin before US November vote

As NATO leaders met in Washington, Trump reiterated his threat to not defend NATO members from a Russian attack if they don’t meet the defense spending target of at least 2% of GDP. Since 2021, the number of allies meeting this target has increased from six to 23.

“The United States has been understood,” Stoltenberg said. “Allies have acted.”

Trump stated on Fox News Radio that he does not want the U.S. to exit NATO but wants other countries to contribute their share.

The U.S. and some other countries have opposed Ukraine’s membership during its conflict with Russia to avoid escalating tensions. They have also stressed that Ukraine must address corruption and other systemic reforms.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has long opposed Ukraine’s efforts to join the Western alliance, viewing it as a threat to Russia’s security and interests.

Finnish President Alexander Stubb emphasized, “It’s important to send a message to the Kremlin that Ukraine’s path toward NATO membership is now irreversible.”

President Joe Biden reaffirmed U.S. support for Ukraine and NATO’s importance, noting increased military spending and the doubling of battle groups on NATO’s eastern flank since he took office.

“We can and will defend every inch of NATO territory, and we will do it together,” Biden said.

Zelenskyy, in Washington for the NATO summit, highlighted Ukraine’s urgent need for F-16 fighter jets in a speech to Republican lawmakers. He stated that more than 100 jets are needed to counter Russian air attacks, with Russia using 300 jets.

Six nations, including the U.S., are training Ukrainians on F-16s, but precise numbers and locations have not been disclosed.

Gen. David Allvin, Chief of Staff of the Air Force, reported that of the initial class of 12 Ukrainian pilots training at Morris Air National Guard Base in Tucson, Arizona, seven completed training in May, and the remaining five are expected to finish in August. The training focuses on the long-term value of getting Ukraine’s F-16 program running, not immediate battlefield impact.

Zelenskyy also met with U.S. senators and the Republican Speaker of the House, requesting more defense help.

Separately, the U.S. and Germany announced “episodic deployments” of long-range missiles to Germany starting in 2026, including Tomahawk, SM-6, and hypersonic missiles. This deployment, notable because such land-based missiles were previously banned under the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, may provoke Russia to deploy conventional or nuclear weapons of its own.

European and U.S. allies have announced new arms deliveries, such as dozens of air defense systems, including Patriots.

These promises follow opposition from Republican lawmakers allied with Trump, which blocked a U.S. support package to Ukraine earlier this year, allowing Russia to make gains against Ukrainian forces with dwindling resources. Europeans and NATO have since vowed to ensure a reliable flow of military support to Ukraine.

John Collins
John Collins
John is an esteemed journalist and author renowned for their incisive reporting and deep insights into global affairs. As a prominent contributor to City Telegraph, John brings over 5 years of experience covering diverse geopolitical landscapes, from the corridors of power in major capitals to the frontlines of conflict zones.

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