NATO allies to unveil Ukraine ‘bridge to membership’

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NATO allies at their summit in Washington next week will unveil a “bridge to membership” plan for Ukraine and announce steps to bolster Kyiv’s air defenses, a senior US official said on Friday.

“Allies will reaffirm that Ukraine’s future is in NATO, will make significant new announcements about how we’re increasing NATO’s military political and financial support for Ukraine. This is part of Ukraine’s bridge to NATO,” the official told reporters.

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US President Joe Biden, who is battling to remain a viable candidate for re-election after a stumbling debate performance against Republican Donald Trump, will play host to the leaders of NATO’s 32 members beginning Tuesday in Washington.

Biden is expected to hold a rare solo news conference during the summit.

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who lobbied unsuccessfully for a political invitation to join NATO at its summit in Vilnius last summer, has said that this year’s summit should resolve the matter of inviting Kyiv to join.

The senior US official described the “bridge to membership” plan as quite substantial that will include training coordination, logistics and force development.

“This is a very serious effort to get Ukraine in a position...where it will be ready to assume its roles and responsibilities within the alliance on day one,” the official said.

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Zelenskyy is expected to attend the summit. Ukraine has been trying to push back Russian advances in the Kharkiv area.

The senior US official also said the United States and some NATO allies will announce new steps “to strengthen Ukraine’s air defenses and military capabilities to help Ukraine continue to defend themselves today.”

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