NATO foreign ministers: 'Intense focus' on Ukraine support
NATO foreign ministers have gathered in Oslo for a final day of informal talks on heightened defense spending and the military alliance's future relationship with Ukraine
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance's foreign ministers are placing an "intense focus" on providing support for Ukraine amid Russia's ongoing war during talks on Thursday.
The ministers are meeting in the Norwegian capital of Oslo for a second and final day of informal talks that seek to unify positions ahead of a NATO leaders summit in Lithuania in July.
What to expect from today's talks
The foreign ministers are set to discuss a range of issues, but the primary focus will be on the alliance's future relationship with Ukraine and what support can be provided as Russia continues its war.
Sweden, whose NATO membership bid has been stalled by resistance from Turkey and Hungary, is also taking part in the informal discussions in Oslo.
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said the talks in Olso will "set the stage" for the NATO leaders' summit in July in the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius — and that reaching a unified position now is key.
Debating Ukraine's status
At the start of talks on Thursday, Stoltenberg emphasized that the trans-Atlantic military alliance is prepared to welcome Ukraine as a member, but only once the war ends.
"All allies agree that Moscow does not have a veto against NATO enlargement," Stoltenberg said. "We are moving, allies agree that Ukraine will become a member."
The question now, is how to continue providing support to Ukraine and ensure that it "prevails" amid Russia's war, the NATO secretary general added.
French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna said that the alliance now needs to consider what kind of security guarantees NATO can provide Ukraine.
Lithuania and Spain's foreign ministers both said NATO needs to set out concrete steps for Ukraine's membership after the war ends.
Sweden's NATO membership standoff
Another issue high on the list of the foreign ministers talks is Sweden's stalled membership bid in the alliance.
Stoltenberg as well as US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and German Foreign Minister Baerbock emphasized that they fully expect Sweden to soon become a member.
"We aim to welcome Sweden as a new NATO member at the Vilnius summit in July," Baerbock told reporters.
Sweden's membership bid, however, remains up in the air amid pushback from NATO members Turkey and Hungary.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who was reelected on Sunday for another five-year term, has accused Sweden of harboring "terrorists," particularly members of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).
Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom said on Thursday that his country had fulfilled "all the commitments" to join NATO.
"It is time for Turkey and Hungary to start the ratification of the Swedish membership to NATO," he said. "This was never a sprint, it's a marathon, and we now see the end of it."