What did the Nato summit in Vilnius achieve?

Although the leaders at the Nato summit in Vilnius did not set out a concrete scenario for Ukraine's accession, the alliance has pledged comprehensive support for the embattled country. The newly established Nato-Ukraine Council as well as bilateral agreements with the G7 states will ensure this support. Nato members also agreed to a new pledge to spend at least two percent of their GDP on defence in future. The results of the summit draw a mixed response in the press.

Open/close all quotes
NRC Handelsblad (NL) /

Now deeds must follow

The Nato states must also make good on the commitments they have made, NRC urges:

“When push comes to shove and expensive decisions must be made, they must not forget the fine words they spoke at the summit. ... European countries have a special responsibility: after all, it is their defence that is at stake, and three-quarters of a century after WWII this responsibility can no longer be shifted to the US. Nato is popular in Washington, but during Trump's presidency Europe already learned that American support is not a law of nature. And if China starts demanding more attention, Europe could be in trouble. After Putin's invasion, Europe must not be taken by surprise again.”

Maaleht (EE) /

A big step forward

Maaleht welcomes the comprehensive defence plans decided at the summit:

“Estonia's Nato accession in 2004 along with six other states was a small miracle aided by the favourable conjunction of military-political stars and the selfless efforts of Estonian officials. Admission was a political decision. Article 5 gave us a security guarantee, but initially there were no concrete plans on how Nato would defend Estonia in the event of an attack. The elaboration of such plans for Estonia and other countries has been a pressing issue until now.”

Denik (CZ) /

More was not in the cards

Nato and Ukraine face a dilemma, Deník explains:

“Things happened the way they had to happen. After Vilnius, Ukraine is closer to Nato membership than any other country that wants in. ... The problem the country faces, however, is that it still does not know when it will be invited to join. Yet the fact is that even with the best will in the world the alliance could not have done more in Vilnius. They cannot accept a warring country into Nato in the middle of a conflict - if they don't want to immediately become one of the warring parties.”

Delfi (LT) /

No time for miracles

Commenting in Delfi, columnist Andrius Užkalnis shows understanding for Nato's decisions:

“We wanted a dream. We wanted the liberation of Ukraine and the defeat and disarmament of the Russian Federation to be forever associated with Vilnius in the eyes of history. That would have been fantastic, but it was unrealistic. There is no reason to mourn that it didn't happen that way. ... The world's great powers have pledged only as much as circumstances and their electorates allow. ... Politics is the art of the possible, and they did what they could, even if we would have liked more and better things - after all, every missile and every bullet is paid for by taxpayers somewhere in Germany or Spain.”

Jyllands-Posten (DK) /

Putin is the big loser

Russia miscalculated, says Jyllands-Posten:

“Putin thought he could escape Nato. Now he has two new and strong Nato states on his border. He didn't think the West would come to Ukraine's aid. But it did, and now Russia is being pushed onto the battlefield. He didn't believe that the West had the strength to regain its determination to defend itself. But that's precisely what is happening now that Nato countries have committed to spending at least two percent of their gross domestic product on defence. Only Putin knows what is going through his head in the Kremlin right now. He is the loser who sees himself corrected by history.”

Svenska Dagbladet (SE) /

Stoltenberg can breathe a sigh of relief

The Nato states are sticking together even if it sometimes doesn't look like that way, Svenska Dagbladet notes with satisfaction:

“Everyone was happy with the solution [of the Nato-Ukraine Council] and the bilateral security guarantees announced by the G7 countries for Ukraine. Secretary General Stoltenberg can once again breathe a sigh of relief. ... With almost 32 countries, Nato is a huge organisation in which the interests of the allies sometimes go in slightly different directions. In the end, however, they always come to an agreement.”

LB.ua (UA) /

Too noncommittal

Viktoriya Vdovychenko, a lecturer in international relations at Borys Grinchenko Kyiv University, expresses disappointment on LB.ua:

“Unfortunately there has been no miracle on the issue of Nato membership. So far Nato has viewed our desire to join the alliance as an invitation to get mixed up in a war. And the key Nato countries, the US and Germany, are definitely not ready for that. Some groundbreaking decisions were made at the Vilnius summit - both on Sweden's membership and on increasing the defence budget. Ukraine, however, received only surprisingly vague statements regarding its membership prospects.”

taz, die tageszeitung (DE) /

A missed opportunity

The taz can understand why Kyiv is not satisfied with the results of the summit:

“Zelensky, who at this stage has mastered the keyboard of war diplomacy to perfection, is not naive. ... He knows that Ukraine cannot become a Nato member overnight. Nevertheless, the alliance could at least have decided to start accession talks with Kyiv. That would have been an important political statement and also a clear signal to Russia. Unfortunately, this opportunity was missed. This could backfire. Just remember what happened in 2008 [at the Nato summit in Bucharest Ukraine's application for membership was welcomed but then postponed].”

Postimees (EE) /

Reminiscent of the Bucharest summit in 2008

Commentng in Postimees, historian Mart Kuldkepp also fears that Nato has failed to learn from its mistakes:

“Even now - after a year and a half of full-blown war - it confines itself to pretty vague promises. One could say that the earnestness with which the question of Ukraine's membership has been considered shows that the member states are serious about their collective defence. What we are hearing, however, is something else: the same old fear of a confrontation with Russia. ... The consequences of the same mistake were already visible after 2008, and I fear that there will be consequences this time too.”

Jutarnji list (HR) /

Protecting democracy also means compromising

The meeting in Vilnius has shown how important Nato is in guaranteeing the security of democracies, Jutarnji list points out:

“In a world where the number of autocracies is growing, functional democracies must be protected. ... When 31 people sit at a table, it's impossible that they're all thinking the same thing. And if that were the case, one would want nothing better than to leave the room post haste. No one has left since 1949, but many want to join. Agreement is reached through talks, compromises, concessions - everything that defines democracies. Such a Nato can and must remain the headquarters of European and, to some extent, global cooperative security. Much to the dismay of Beijing, Moscow, Pyongyang - and Belgrade.”