NATO has dispatched more warships to the Baltic Sea in the run-up to the Vilnius summit on July 11-12, Lithuanian public broadcaster LRT quoted the commander of the Lithuanian Navy, Giedrius Premeneckas, as saying on July 4.
“The (Lithuanian) Navy is allocating its capabilities to satisfy certain niche needs during the summit in Vilnius, and there’s certainly an increase in the presence of allied ships in the Baltic Sea in our region,” Premeneckas said.
“They provide, first of all, air surveillance, maritime situation surveillance and interoperability.”
The Lithuanian Navy is in constant contact with allied ships and information is being exchanged to avoid “some unplanned or provocative action by another state,” Premeneckas added, in reference to Russia.
The allied force includes German, U.S., Italian, and Polish vessels.
“The number of these ships might fluctuate at times, and these are the main capabilities that have been deployed,” Premeneckas said.
Ukraine’s accession to NATO: What we know
Ukraine applied for NATO membership last September. Several NATO members immediately supported this move, while others were hesitant.
The next NATO summit is scheduled to be held in the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius on July 11-12. Ukraine has said it expects for a clear sign of NATO’s readiness to allow it to join the defensive alliance.
NATO Summit: three scenarios for Ukraine
However, while NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that NATO’s door remains open for Ukraine, no official invitation should be expected yet.
In June, U.S. political news outlet Politico reported that Ukraine’s partner nations are “still divided over nearly every element of how to respond to the request” for the security guarantees Ukraine requires following the end of Russia’s full-scale invasion.
Western countries may propose a security model akin to that enjoyed by Israel, prior to Ukraine’s membership in NATO, U.S. newspaper the Wall Street Journal wrote. This would expedite the transfer of advanced weapons and technology to Kyiv and act as a stepping stone towards eventual membership.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has stated that he sees no reason to attend the Vilnius summit if Ukraine’s NATO membership is not on the table.
On July 3, Zelenskyy called on U.S. President Joe Biden to invite Ukraine into NATO “now” – even if membership does not come until after the war.
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