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NATO summit in Lithuania: Ukraine’s future, Russia’s threat and Turkey’s veto

NATO summit in Lithuania: Ukraine's future, Russia's threat and Turkey's veto

NATO leaders are meeting in Vilnius, Lithuania, for a critical summit amid the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine. The alliance faces tough choices on how to support Ukraine’s sovereignty, deter Russia’s aggression and resolve Turkey’s objections to Sweden’s membership bid.

U.S. President Joe Biden, who arrived in Vilnius on Monday, has reiterated his support for Ukraine’s eventual accession to NATO, but said it would only happen after the war is over. He also announced that the U.S. would provide Ukraine with cluster munitions, a controversial weapon that can cause civilian casualties.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who made a last-minute decision to attend the summit, is expected to urge NATO to increase its military presence and assistance in the region. He also hopes to secure a clear roadmap for joining the alliance, despite Russia’s opposition.

However, NATO’s enlargement is not only blocked by Russia, but also by Turkey, a key ally that has vetoed Sweden’s bid for more than a year. Turkey has cited Sweden’s lack of solidarity with Muslim countries and its involvement in burning the Quran as reasons for its stance. Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven, who will meet with Biden at the White House on Wednesday, has appealed to Turkey to lift its veto and allow Sweden to join NATO.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, who has been asked to extend his mandate for another year, has said that the alliance is ready to defend its territory and values against Russia’s threat. He has also expressed concern about China’s growing influence and involvement in the conflict, especially after Beijing held talks with Kyiv last week.

The summit comes as Russia continues to launch attacks on Ukraine, using drones, submarines and cyberwarfare. Ukraine’s military said it shot down several Iranian-made drones that targeted Kyiv overnight. The war, which started in 2021 after Russia annexed Crimea and backed separatists in eastern Ukraine, has killed more than 15,000 people and displaced millions.

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