'Ukraine will one day be part of NATO', says Belgian prime minister

Leaders of seven NATO countries, including Belgium, have stressed the importance of Ukraine's NATO membership at a meeting in The Hague. "Ukraine will one day be part of NATO," prime minister Alexander De Croo (Open VLD) told a news conference afterwards.

The leaders met to prepare for the next NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania. "All member states want Ukraine to join NATO," said NATO secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg. "It will be an important summit," Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte said. "We need to send a clear signal to Ukraine at the summit."

NATO-Ukraine Council

Ukraine will not join next month's summit because it is still at war. But steps such as the creation of a NATO-Ukraine Council will be taken. De Croo spoke of a "political framework" for further talks with Ukraine. Security guarantees for the country will also be discussed.

Stoltenberg also said it was too early to conclude the presence of Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin and his mercenaries in Belarus after they led a brief uprising in Russia on Saturday.

Joining De Croo, Rutte and Stoltenberg in The Hague were the leaders of Romania, Poland, Norway, Albania and Lithuania.

Extension of mandate

Meanwhile, Stoltenberg's mandate will be extended by a year because there is no consensus on a successor amid the war in Ukraine. News website Euractiv and Dutch news agency ANP reported this on Tuesday, citing diplomatic sources.

Stoltenberg, a 64-year-old former Norwegian prime minister who has been in the job since October 2014, was due to step down at the end of September after serving two four-year terms. His mandate was extended by one year in March 2022, shortly after Russia's invasion of Ukraine began.



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