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Ascending the Vilnius Summit

The agenda at NATO’s summit in the Lithuanian capital is long, difficult, and critical. The alliance must not only clarify the guarantees it is prepared to offer Ukraine but also consolidate its recent enlargement, which will require increases in the volume and efficiency of defense spending, especially among European members.

NEW YORK – The upcoming NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania promises to be anything but business as usual for the simple reason that it will be taking place against the backdrop of a European war that has been raging ever since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. The agenda is long, difficult, and critical.

Many participants and observers are calling for NATO’s 31 members to invite Ukraine to join the alliance. That is unlikely to happen. Alliance membership requires unanimous consent, and several existing members, including the United States, are not ready to support an immediate move.

Those resisting bringing Ukraine into NATO now have it right. NATO’s all-important Article 5 clause extends a solemn commitment to collective defense: an attack on one member constitutes an attack on all. Ukraine is already under attack. Membership under current circumstances would turn a war between Russia and Ukraine into a war between Russia and NATO.