Day 499: Zelenskyi to go to NATO summit in Vilnius

Zelenskyi will go to NATO summit in Vilnius. Slovakia will send more Zuzana howitzers to Ukraine. Slovakia and Ukraine will jointly produce ammunition. Seventy per cent of Ukrainians feel happy despite the war, a survey finds. 

Zelenskyi to go to NATO summit in Vilnius

NATO Secretary General said that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyi will take part in the NATO summit in Vilnius next week. “President Zelenskyi will join us for the inaugural meeting of the new NATO-Ukraine Council. This will be a platform for crisis consultation and decision-making where we all sit as equals to address shared security concerns,” Stoltenberg told a news conference ahead of the summit. 

At the Summit, NATO members will take further major steps to strengthen their deterrence and defense with three new regional defense plans, Stoltenberg said, to counter the two main threats to the Alliance: Russia, and terrorism.

At the summit, allied leaders will agree a package with three elements, to bring Ukraine closer to NATO, the Stoltenberg said. First, they will agree a multi-year program of assistance to ensure full interoperability between the Ukrainian armed forces and NATO. Second, they will upgrade political ties by establishing the NATO-Ukraine Council. “And third, I expect Allied leaders will reaffirm that Ukraine will become a member of NATO, and unite on how to bring Ukraine closer to its goal,” Stoltenberg said. 

NATO allies are still negotiating what exactly to offer Ukraine at the meeting, which begins Tuesday, The Washington Post said.

The U.S., which holds the greatest sway over decisions of the 31-member alliance, has been maneuvering for months to lower Kyiv’s expectations by focusing the conversation on “security guarantees” rather than membership in the near term, which many allies see as impossible to even discuss so long as Ukraine remains at war with Russia, the article reads.

Slovakia to send 16 more Zuzana howitzers to Ukraine, to jointly produce ammunition

Slovakia will send 16 more Zuzana howitzers to Ukraine, Slovak President Zuzana Čaputová told a joint news conference with Ukrainian President Zelenskyi in Bratislava. 

Ukraine and Slovakia signed an agreement with an estimated delivery to begin soon, she said. The countries will jointly develop a new type of howitzer and produce ammunition, Čaputová said.

Slovakia will also contribute to demining efforts in Ukraine, the Slovak president added.

The supply likely comes as part of a deal earlier announced by the Slovak defense minister that sees Germany, Denmark and Norway buy 16 Zuzana howitzers for Ukraine.

The Czech Republic will send more attack helicopters and large-caliber ammunition to Ukraine, and will help train pilots on F-16 fighter jets, Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala said after talks with President Zelenskyi.

Seventy per cent of Ukrainians feel happy despite war, survey finds

Seventy per cent of Ukrainians say they feel happy despite the war, a survey conducted by the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology finds. The share has largely remained unchanged since when Russia invaded Ukraine and from a few months before the invasion. In December 2021, two months before the full-scale invasion, 71 per cent of Ukrainians said they felt happy. Some 984 adults were polled between May 26 and June 5, 2023.