NATO plans to invite Ukraine into a new NATO-Ukraine defense council as an equal member, said NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at a press conference today in Brussels.
Stoltenberg said the details of the council will be announced next month at NATO‘s summit in Vilnius, Lithuania.
At the meeting, leaders agreed to boost defense production and standardize munitions and command and control interoperability among NATO nations and Ukraine.
NATO is also focused on a path to bring Ukraine closer to alliance membership, Stoltenberg said.
NATO has an open door policy regarding membership, and Russia cannot impact that decision, he said. Stoltenberg added that Sweden will also be welcomed into the alliance — hopefully very soon.
NATO leaders also agreed that the minimum, or “floor,” for member nations’ defense spending would be 2% of gross domestic product. Stoltenberg said that figure would not the ceiling. That means that he hopes the 2% figure can be exceeded by nations to keep people safe in an increasingly dangerous world.
NATO condemns Russia’s reckless nuclear rhetoric and its plans to deploy nuclear weapons to Belarus. Stoltenberg said NATO is also concerned with China’s nuclear expansion and North Korea’s missile testing.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III welcomed the expansion of support of Ukraine and modernization and standardization of munitions to benefit NATO-Ukraine interoperability.
The minimum 2% of GDP for defense spending by NATO members will help ensure increased collective defense and deterrence and will result in forces at much higher levels of readiness, he said.
Sweden’s membership into NATO will also be discussed at next month’s summit, Austin said.
Besides collective European security, Austin said NATO also has aimed for deepening partnerships with Indo-Pacific nations to ensure a free and open region.