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NATO-Ukraine Defense Council to Be Established

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.

A group of people sit around a circular table in a large room
NATO Meeting
Defense leaders from NATO member nations discuss their defense spending obligations and other issues at a meeting in Brussels, June 16, 2023. The leaders agreed to a minimum of 2% of their gross domestic product.
Photo By: NATO
VIRIN: 230616-O-D0439-0001A

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.  

A man in a business suit stands at a lectern.
Stoltenberg Remarks
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaks at a news conference in Brussels, June 16, 2023.
Photo By: NATO
VIRIN: 230616-O-D0439-0003

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. 

Two men talk.
Defense Discussion
Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III holds a discussion between meetings of NATO defense leaders in Brussels, June 16, 2023. The leaders discussed their support for Ukraine, as well as defense spending goals.
Photo By: NATO
VIRIN: 230616-O-D0439-0002

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.

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