Vilnius summit will bring Ukraine closer to NATO: Stoltenberg

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Brussels Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has said that the upcoming summit in Vilnius, Lithuania will bring Ukraine closer to the military alliance.

“I hope that our leaders will once again confirm Ukraine’s membership of NATO and agree on how to bring Ukraine closer to achieving its goal,” Stoltenberg said at a news conference here late Friday. “

He said NATO aims to adopt three regional defense plans at the July 11-12 summit, Xinhua news agency reported.

He said the military bloc would strengthen its deterrence in the Atlantic and the European Arctic in the north, the Baltic region and Central Europe in the middle, and the Mediterranean Sea and the Black Sea in the south.

To execute these plans, Stoltenberg said NATO would place 300,000 troops on high alert, including substantial air and naval combat power.

The NATO chief said he expected support for a new “Defence Production Action Plan” to address overall demand, increase capability and enhance interoperability.

The summit is expected to set a more ambitious defense investment pledge for NATO allies to invest a minimum of two per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) annually on defence.

Leaders from Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea and the European Union will also participate in the summit.

Stoltenberg said this would be Finland’s first summit as a NATO member. He added that the bloc “expects Sweden to join as soon as possible”.

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