NATO-Ukraine Council meeting praises Kyiv as member and likely future 'ally'

NATO-Ukraine Council meeting praises Kyiv as member and likely future 'ally'

'We are humbled by all the sacrifices Ukrainians have made in this fight and we are inspired by your courage,' says NATO chief Stoltenberg

By Beyza Binnur Donmez

VILNIUS, Lithuania (AA) – Opening the first NATO-Ukraine Council meeting on Wednesday, the alliance chief praised Ukraine and stressed its status as an “equal” and one day a likely NATO member.

Speaking in Lithuania's capital Vilnius, the site of a two-day alliance summit, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg described the meeting as a "historic moment" as NATO "allies and Ukraine sitting side by side as equals."

"We stand with you in your courageous struggle for freedom and sovereignty. We are humbled by all the sacrifices that Ukrainians have made in this fight and we are inspired by your courage," Stoltenberg said, directing his words to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and the Ukrainian people.

Underlining the need to maintain and expand NATO's support to help Ukraine liberate its land and protect against future Russian “aggression,” he said this summit ensured that Ukraine will be a member of the alliance.

"At this summit we have reaffirmed that Ukraine will become a member of the alliance and we have made decisions to bring Ukraine closer to NATO," he said.

"Today we meet as equals and I look forward to the day we meet as allies," he added.

Just before the NATO-Ukraine Council meeting, Zelenskyy told a joint press conference alongside Stoltenberg that the NATO summit results are "good" for Ukraine but they would be "optimum" if Kyiv had been invited to join the military alliance.

The Vilnius summit communique released on Tuesday underlined that the alliance "fully supports" Kyiv's right to choose its own security arrangements, adding that "Ukraine’s future is in NATO."

However, it added that the alliance will extend an invitation to Ukraine when "allies agree and conditions are met."

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