Forty years ago, no one could have imagined such a thing. This year, the “NATO Summit” is taking place in Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, which was part of the Soviet Union until the early 1990s. The agenda of the summit includes “NATO expansion” and the “Ukraine-Russia War.”
The latest development in the ongoing expansion process was Finland becoming a NATO member. The membership of Sweden, on the other hand, depends on meeting Türkiye’s demands. Ukraine is pushing for NATO membership, but the majority of NATO members believe that the “right time” has not yet come.
US President Joe Biden has repeatedly emphasized that Ukraine’s NATO membership is not possible as long as the war continues. Meanwhile, the US is pursuing a strategy that prolongs the war as much as possible. Commentators noting that the US is waging a “proxy war” in Ukraine formulate this strategy as “continue the war until the last Ukrainian soldier stands.”
The establishment of the “NATO-Ukraine Council” is also expected to be discussed at the Vilnius Summit to facilitate Ukraine’s future NATO membership. In 2002, a similar mechanism, the “NATO-Russia Council,” was established. However, this Council became dysfunctional, lacking substance. Some NATO members are demanding that Ukraine be exempted from the conditions set for candidate countries, arguing that the process of Ukraine’s membership should be expedited.
In the context of European security architecture, NATO was established against the Soviet Union. Despite the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact, NATO continues to exist. NATO is the most powerful tool of the US in its European policy. NATO’s expansion is related to the US’s continued military presence in Europe. The US policy aims to keep Russia out of Europe. Russia’s attempts to be part of the European security architecture have been repelled.It was the Soviet Union that ended the “Cold War,” and the US treated Russia as a defeated enemy. The absence of Russia in Europe contributed to the hardening of the Russian political system in the form of “Putinism.” NATO’s expansion is the breeding ground for what is happening today.
The US is gradually increasing the quality of the weapons it provides to Kiev. The Biden administration is now set to supply “cluster bombs” to Kiev. According to Biden, the bombs will be sent as long as the US increases the production of “155mm” artillery shells, with no permanent commitment. The “duration” aspect remains vague. In practice, this approach means the bombs will be sent as long as Kiev needs them.
NATO’s leading members, such as Germany, France, the UK, the Netherlands, Italy, and Spain, are signatories of a treaty that prohibits the use of cluster bombs. The Convention, signed by 123 countries, bans the use, production, transfer, and stockpiling of these weapons. The US, Russia, and Ukraine are not party to the agreement. Both Ukraine and Russia are using these bombs.
Biden says, “I have discussed this with our allies” regarding the transfer of cluster bombs. However, he did not specify which allies he spoke with. Cluster bombs pose a risk of harming civilians both during and after conflicts. Therefore, the countries party to the mentioned Convention are calling for a global effort to restrain the use of cluster bombs.
US Ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, strongly criticized Russia for using cluster bombs in her speech at the UN General Assembly in March 2022. In her speech, Thomas-Greenfield stated, “We have seen videos of Russian forces introducing highly lethal weapons into Ukraine’s war zone, including cluster munitions and vacuum bombs, which are banned under the Geneva Conventions.”
Two days later, the US Department of State removed the phrase “in the war zone” from the Ambassador’s speech text. A note was also added stating that the Geneva Conventions only prohibit the use of cluster bombs against civilians. This change indicates that the US was already considering sending cluster bombs to Ukraine at that time.
Another development related to the NATO Summit is the involvement of “China.” Leaders from non-NATO member countries such as Japan, Australia, South Korea, and New Zealand were invited to the summit. There are proponents within NATO, particularly the US, advocating for the alliance to take an active position against China. The participation of these four countries from the Asia-Pacific region in the summit has naturally caught Beijing’s attention.