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At NATO Summit, Polish FM Radek Sikorski weighs in on Ukraine war


Listen: Does Ukraine have the strength, stamina, and support to win the war against Russia? On the GZERO World Podcast, Ian Bremmer sat down with Polish Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski on the sidelines of NATO’s 75th-anniversary summit in Washington, DC, for his perspective on the war, European unity, and whether NATO allies can remain united long enough to see Ukraine through to victory. Despite uncertainty about the 2024 US election, Ukraine’s struggle to recruit new troops, and rogue alliance member Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orbán meeting with Putin, Sikorski is confident Ukraine will ultimately prevail.

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Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orbán is undermining Western unity at the NATO Summit
Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orbán is undermining Western unity at the NATO Summit | GZERO World

Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orbán is undermining Western unity at the NATO Summit

Is Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orbán undermining Europe and Western unity following this year’s critical NATO summit? Just days after Hungary’s nationalist leader met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow and Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing, Orbán left the NATO 75th anniversary summit in Washington, DC to visit former president Donald Trump, a well-known critic of the alliance, at his Mar-A-Lago estate.

On GZERO World, Ian Bremmer sat down with Polish Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski on the sidelines of the summit to ask how NATO members deal with a renegade ally like Hungary and the challenges posed by Orbán’s coziness with authoritarian rulers. Orbán’s rogue trips are a sharp contrast with NATO’s unified stance, on full display at the summit, but Sikorski insists Orbán doesn’t represent the EU or NATO.

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Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau arrives to the venue on the last day of the NATO Summit in Madrid, Spain on June 30, 2022.

Jakub Porzycki via Reuters Connect

NATO goes all-in on Ukraine, Canada gets a slap on the wrist

At the NATO meeting in Washington this week, President Joe Biden announced a new air defense commitment for Ukraine that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who is also in town, has long wanted. Ukraine’s defense against Russia is a central topic on the occasion of the alliance’s 75th anniversary as Putin steps up the Russian war effort.

Despite its own military aid and commitments to Ukraine, which run into the billions, Canada has been getting plenty of attention for its lack of spending. US officials criticize PM Justin Trudeau’s government for failing to meet NATO’s defense-spending target of 2% of GDP – it hit just the 1.38% GDP mark last year.

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Handout photo shows Left to right: President Volodymyr Zelenskyy (Ukraine) with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in Vilnius. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg welcomed Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky to the NATO Summit on Wednesday July 12, 2023, ahead of the inaugural meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Council in Vilnius, Lithuania.

Photo by NATO via ABACAPRESS.COM

Ukraine gets a NATO promise, sort of

NATO allies will reportedly announce today that Ukraine’s progress towards joining the organization is “irreversible.” The language will appear in the joint communiqué released by the alliance to conclude its three-day summit in Washington.

But when, precisely, that irreversible momentum will culminate in a NATO membership card for Kyiv is still no clearer now than it was three days ago.

Reports suggest that the allies spent hours hashing out how explicit to make any conditions in the text, but there seem to be two main hurdles: ending the war with Russia, and getting Ukraine’s governing and military institutions up to NATO-level snuff.

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen sit in a F-16 fighter jet at Skrydstrup Airbase in Vojens, Denmark, August 20, 2023.

Ritzau Scanpix/Mads Claus Rasmussen via REUTERS

Hard Numbers: Ukraine finally getting F-16s, Hooliganism ahead of Euro semifinal, Snake smuggling in China, Rwanda says no refund to the UK

60: NATO countries have started transferring US-made F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine, the White House announced on Wednesday. Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands, and Belgium have pledged to provide roughly 60 of the fighter jets to Ukraine amid its war with Russia. Kyiv has been pushing for NATO countries to provide F-16s for well over a year. This first batch is being donated by the Dutch and Danish, though it’s unclear precisely how many are being sent at this time.

5: Hooliganism continues to plague the beautiful game … At least five people were injured in Dortmund, Germany, in clashes between Dutch and English football (soccer) fans ahead of the Euro 2024 semifinal between the two countries on Wednesday. Some of the violence was reportedly linked to Dutch fans attacking English fans in bars and attempting to steal flags.

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Volodymyr Zelenskiy, President of Ukraine, with his wife Olena Zelenskiy on the left, surrounded of Heads of State in the NATO Summit hosted in Vilnius, Lithuania.

REUTERS/ Celestino Arce

What to expect at the NATO summit

The 2024 NATO Summit is set to begin on Tuesday in Washington, DC, and it comes at a historic but precarious moment for both the alliance and host nation. NATO is dealing with an ongoing war in Ukraine, preparing to welcome Mark Rutte as its new chief, and bracing for the outcome of the 2024 US presidential election.

As a result of the war in Ukraine, which pushed Finland and Sweden into NATO’s arms, the alliance is larger than ever, and tensions between the West and Russia have reached levels not seen since the Cold War. Sustaining support for Ukraine as the country creeps toward the three-year mark of Russia’s 2022 invasion will be a major issue on the agenda at the summit, as alliance members increasingly struggle to make the case for throwing more weapons and money at a conflict that has no end in sight. And while Kyiv’s ambitions of joining NATO will be discussed at the summit, the continued fighting between Ukraine and Russia means it’s not happening anytime soon.

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy interacts with soldiers during his visit to a military training area to find out about the training of Ukrainian soldiers on the ?Patriot? anti-aircraft missile system, at an undisclosed location, in Germany, June 11, 2024.

REUTERS/ Jens Buttner

NATO to pledge $43 billion in Ukraine support

As world leaders descend on Washington today for this year’s NATO summit, one number is top of mind: $43 billion. That’s the amount NATO leaders are expected to pledge in Ukraine support at this week’s gathering.

The one-year, $43 billion pledge is less ambitious than NATO’s initial proposal of a multi-year, $100 billion support package, but it couldn’t come at a more critical time for Ukraine. The country has weathered a wave of Russian missile attacks against its cities in recent days – one hit its largest children’s hospital in Kyiv on Monday – killing 36 people and injuring 140 nationwide, adding to the mounting number of civilian casualties since Moscow renewed its air campaign in recent months.

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Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, Moldova's President Maia Sandu and President of the European Council Charles Michel attend a joint press conference, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Kyiv, Ukraine November 21, 2023.

REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko

Europe flirts with the East but won’t yet commit

The European Union has expanded to the East in recent years, but some would-be members remain in line to join the club.

On Tuesday, Ukraine and Moldova finally began talks to join the European Union after applying for membership within weeks of Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine. (Ironically, it was Ukrainian protests over their president’s failure to sign a trade agreement with Europe that triggered the uprising that led Vladimir Putin to invade Crimea in 2014.)

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