Biden’s NATO Solidarity Mission Amid Intensifying Russia-Ukraine Conflict: A Look at Ukraine’s Potential Membership and Weapon Shortages
July 10, 2023
President Biden is scheduled to depart for Lithuania on Monday night to partake in the annual North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) summit. This journey to Vilnius constitutes part of a broader solidarity mission this week, primarily designed to boost support for Ukraine in its resistance against Russia. The Russia-Ukraine conflict is intensifying, demonstrated by over 1,000 troops from NATO member Poland relocating eastwards on Saturday, amid anxieties about the presence of Wagner Group fighters in adjacent Belarus.
Considering Ukraine’s NATO Membership
In a dialogue with CNN, President Biden revealed doubts over the agreement within NATO concerning Ukraine’s admittance into the alliance. “I don’t think there is unanimity in NATO about whether or not to bring Ukraine into the NATO family now, at this moment, in the middle of a war,” he observed. Biden pointed out that NATO membership necessitates time to meet various qualifications. However, he also affirmed that the U.S. would extend security, weaponry, and capacity for Ukraine to safeguard itself throughout this process.
Supply Scarcities Amid Russia vs Ukraine Tensions
While Russia engages in war with Ukraine, Biden addressed his decision to approve cluster munitions for Ukraine. This decision was partially influenced by the depletion of the U.S.’s inventory of 155mm howitzer shells, after delivering over 1.5 million artillery rounds to Kyiv. Nations assisting Ukraine are also witnessing declining weapon supplies, including Stinger and Javelin anti-aircraft and anti-tank missiles manufactured by Raytheon (RTX) and Lockheed Martin (LMT). Given that less than a quarter of NATO nations are expected to meet their 2% GDP defense expenditure commitments by 2025, it might take years for defense contractors to rectify the deficit.
Outlook: Awaiting the NATO Summit amid Russia Conflict
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is slated to attend the Vilnius summit scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday. It is forecasted that pledges of military and financial support will be unveiled during or shortly after the summit. There might also be a coalition outlining training for Ukrainian pilots on Lockheed-manufactured F-16 aircraft. An additional point of interest at the summit could be Sweden’s full admittance into the alliance, potentially depending on the provision of enhanced U.S. fighter jets to Turkey and Stockholm’s obligations to deter supporters of entities identified as terrorist by Ankara. This comes after the recent induction of Finland into NATO in April, reversing a long-standing policy of non-alignment and increasing the military alliance’s size to 31 members.