NATO drops requirement for Ukraine to follow the Membership Action Plan, Ukraine’s Foreign Minister says. German defense group Rheinmetall will build and repair tanks in Ukraine, says CEO. Russian forces are trapped in Bakhmut, and the city falls within range of Ukrainian troops, Ukraine’s ground forces commander says.
NATO drops requirement for Ukraine to follow Membership Action Plan, Ukraine’s Foreign Minister says
NATO member states agreed to allow Ukraine to skip the Membership Action Plan, or MAP, for Ukraine’s entry into NATO, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said Monday.
“Following intensive talks, NATO allies have reached consensus on removing MAP from Ukraine’s path to membership,” Kuleba twitted.
“I welcome this long-awaited decision that shortens our path to NATO. It is also the best moment to offer clarity on the invitation to Ukraine to become member,” he said.
Countries on the eastern flank of NATO and some Western European allies are supportive of granting Ukraine an invitation to join the alliance now, Vice Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration of Ukraine Olha Stefanishyna said in an interview with European Pravda ahead of the summit. NATO could invite Ukraine to join the alliance during the war and finalize the procedures as soon as circumstances permit, she said.
Removing the action plan hurdle was a positive step forward, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda said Monday at a news conference with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.
“The removal of the Membership Action Plan is a positive step forward. It will ease Ukraine’s path to NATO membership,” he said.
Ukraine needs a specific signal that once conditions allow, it will become a real member of NATO, Nauseda said.
“In this respect, we have to go beyond the limits of the language of the Bucharest summit that only speaks of the open doors of NATO. (…) Ukraine today needs very specific signals that once conditions allow, it will become a NATO member, not on paper but in real life,” the Lithuanian President said.
Speaking at a news conference ahead of the summit, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that a final decision was still to be made and consultations were still going on. He confirmed that President Zelenskyi will come to the summit in Vilnius.
Allies at the summit will move Ukraine closer to NATO, Stoltenberg said. “We will also upgrade our political ties. President Zelenskyi will join us for the inaugural meeting of the new NATO-Ukraine Council,” he added.
Rheinmetall will build and repair tanks in Ukraine, says CEO
German defense group Rheinmetall will open an armored vehicle plant in Ukraine within the next 12 weeks, CEO Armin Papperger told CNN in an exclusive interview.
Germany’s biggest arms maker will also train Ukrainians to maintain the tanks and other armored vehicles made in the factory, which will be located in the western part of the country, he said.
“[Ukrainians] have to help themselves — if they always have to wait [for] Europeans or Americans [to] help them over the next 10 or 20 years… that is not possible,” he said.
The company told the Rheinische Post newspaper earlier this year that it hoped to open a battle tank factory on Ukrainian soil, capable of producing about 400 tanks a year. Papperger told CNN that factory workers would also build and repair Rheinmetall’s Fuchs armored personnel carrier under license in the facility.
Papperger said that the factory could be protected from a Russian attack.
Russian forces trapped in Bakhmut, city falls within range of Ukrainian troops
Russian forces are trapped in Bakhmut, Commander of Ukraine’s ground forces Colonel General Oleksandr Syrskyi said Monday.
“Bakhmut. The enemy is trapped. The city falls within range of [Ukraine’s] defense forces,” Syrskyi said on Telegram.
Aerial reconnaissance units spotted an anti-tank guided missile (PTUR) on a Russian position. The 77th separate airmobile brigade destroyed Russian forces there, Syrskyi said.
“The work goes on. On the Bakhmut axis, [Ukrainian troops] are knocking the enemy out of their positions,” he said.
On July 7, Ukraine’s Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar said that the Russians were trapped in Bakhmut and were not able to leave the city.
Ukrainian Eastern Group of Forces Spokesperson Colonel Serhiy Cherevaty earlier said that on the Bakmut axis, Ukrainian troops continue to hold the initiative and pile pressure on Russian forces.