Contributed from Victoria
The just concluded NATO summit in Vilnius ended by producing little, except to reveal uncertainty and lack of member unity. This was supposed to be a stage-managed affair, showing the world solid support for the Kyiv side of the war in Ukraine, and a determined launch of NATO presence in Asia. Neither was delivered.
Part of the problem was Kyiv leader Zelenskyy’s dig at NATO for not permitting Ukraine to join it at once. NATO’s problem is that public support for backing him is weak, and NATO members are under political pressure. They are compelled to at least make what they do look good.
Besides waning public support, especially in Europe, for the war, there is the problem that Kyiv is supposed to meet the supposed democratic credentials for membership. This is awkward, when a range of political parties have been banned, political critics are being arrested, and pro-Nazi groups elevated. This is not a good look and NATO would have considerable difficulty selling it.
Then there is failure of the present offensive on the battlefield. As many as 26,000 soldiers in the past month, and most of its tanks, personnel carriers, and other advanced equipment. There is speculation that Zelenskyy knows he is not going to have a chance of winning without NATO putting boots into Ukraine and escalating to the use of nuclear weapons, and this is what he is ultimately pushing towards. In doing so, he is making NATO nervous and building divisions within it.
Photo from AP: Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy failed at NATO summit
The decision of the United States to supply Ukraine with cluster bombs is unpopular and creates more difficulty for NATO.
Immediate membership of Ukraine is not supported by some of the member nations. Zelenskyy asked for a roadmap for joining. He got a Vague promise that membership will be organised as soon as possible.
Zelenskyy complains that he is not coming away with enough armaments. NATO nations are also concerned that their own stocks are depleting because of what has already been given. This weakens the capacity to expand NATO, and this happens to be the priority of the United States, which happens to dominate the alliance.
Ukraine’s president tweeted his gripes and immediately earned a swipe from the United States delegation. An unnamed official pointed out to media that blasting the alliance stood in stark contrast to the image of Western harmony that [US President Joe] Biden and his aides had been projecting.”
An unnamed senior diplomat from Central Europe said “I think that this is not a thoughtful and fair approach” from the Ukrainian leader. The United Kingdom made its own complaint about his behaviour.
Zelenskyy’s subsequent backdown did not redeem the situation. Ukraine is proving a major headache for NATO. Press releases have been few, and the event ended with a whimper and little media coverage.
The result has been another disaster for Zelenskyy. He walked away with almost nothing.
Cartoon form Global Times
The other burning issue was NATO expansion. The awkward part about expanding into Asia is that as the name north Atlantic Treaty Organisation suggests, NATO’s founding document makes it clear that its purpose is limited to this part of Europe. Now it’s morphing into a body aiming to impose western dominance over the globe. Its new objective has shifted from its old claim for European security, to targeting China.
China has warned NATO not to go down this road, promising that an expansion into Asia will be meet the threat.
In response to the NATO communique issued at the end of the summit, which accused Beijing of “coercive policies” and at “challenge” Western interests, diplomatic sources said the following.
“The China-related content of the communique disregards basic facts, wantonly distorts China’s position and policies, and deliberately discredits China. We firmly oppose and reject this.”
China warned against the opening of a NATO liaison office in Japan, which would be the first NATO installation in Asia and a catalyst for further expansion.
France has been reported to have led opposition to NATO expansion at the summit.
Given the failure of the Vilnius two day meeting, the two issues have been handballed to the G7, The nations involved issued a statement, which in effect said that it will handle support for Ukraine.
At least for now, it seems NATO’s expansion into Asia seems to have stalled.