After Vilnius is before Washington

17 July 2023

Statement of the YES board, July 17, 2023

Time to take more action for Ukraine - even more decisively.

The outcome of the Vilnius NATO summit, particularly together with the commitment from the G7 members and those other that have associated themselves with it, offers a strong signal of a strategic support to Ukraine until the murderous aggressor has been repelled.

There is obviously some disappointment by Ukrainians and friends of Ukraine that the NATO summit has not issued a more explicit membership invitation. But that should not negatively impact the reality of the Vilnius support package for Ukraine.

Focus now must be on the one hand the G7, NATO and EU countries living up to their commitment to give Ukraine further and increased military, financial and political support in its fight for its freedom and on the other hand Ukraine to accelerate its work to meet the conditions for launching EU accession negotiations and further progress towards NATO membership.

Work towards building a new and better Ukraine, after the end of the war, and aiming at full EU and NATO membership must start now. This will also accelerate winning the war.

G7 and other nations must understand that delaying weapons and other support is delaying the end of the aggression and the reconstruction and rehabilitation that will have to be addressed after the war. Delayed weapons means delayed peace.

Ukraine needs financial support also in order to be able to pay and help nurses, teachers, soldiers and all others that are sustaining the nation in its fight for survival and freedom.

The place of Ukraine is and will be in EU and NATO. It’s in the interest of all that this process is supported and accelerated.

So - let’s not complain but appreciate the fact that Europe continues to stand by Ukraine, and that NATO stands firmly behind Ukraine. There should be no doubt: Ukraine fights not only for its own existence and freedom - this war is also about defending freedom and democracy for all of Europe, for the very idea of values-based democracy.

But let’s be clear: while we are on the right way, we must keep going, and even more decisively than before. Nothing is secure yet. Standstill, or hesitation, will put everything that has been achieved at risk.

Has the West acted too quickly in helping Ukraine? Certainly no. Has the West acted too slowly? Yes, indeed, and at a high price in human lives lost, in cities destroyed, and in territory occupied.

Let’s learn our lessons from this. Ukraine needs fighter planes. Ukraine needs more long-range missiles. Ukraine needs comprehensive military and financial support. And Ukraine needs to come up with equally decisive progress on domestic reforms including the fight against corruption.

After Vilnius is before Washington. It must be our goal that by the time that NATO gathers again for a summit in 2024 in the US capital, the situation on the ground in the war will be such, the situation of Ukrainian institutions will be such, and the disposition of Western partners will be such that NATO membership to Ukraine can be implemented. Hopefully, work on the EU accession perspective will proceed in lockstep with this.

Ukraine must not be seen as a burden, but as an asset. As a full member, Ukraine will make NATO, and the EU, stronger. Ukraine secure and whole acceding to the EU and NATO will mean: those who want to live in freedom and democracy and under the rule of law have a pole to count on in the multipolar world, a pole strong enough to bet one’s life plans and the life plans for one’s children on it.

Ukrainian soldiers are dying for this right now, because they understand what is at stake. NATO and EU partners must do their part. This is not just about the future of Ukraine - this is about all of us, about our future way of life, about a world governed not by dictators, but by the rule of law.


By YES board:

Aleksander Kwasniewski, President of Poland (1995–2005), Chairman of the Board  of YES; Kersti Kaljulaid, President of Estonia (2016-2021);  Carl Bildt, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden (2006-2014), Prime Minister of Sweden (1991-1994); Wolfgang Ischinger, Ambassador(ret), President, MSC Foundation Council Senior Fellow, Hertie School of Governance (Berlin); Victor Pinchuk, Founder and Member of the Board, YES and Founder of the Victor Pinchuk Foundation and EastOne group; Stephane Fouks, Vice President of Havas Group, Executive Co-Chairman of Havas Worldwide and Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Founder of Rasmussen Global, Secretary General of NATO (2009-2014), and Prime Minister of Denmark (2001-2009).

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Carl Bildt
Carl Bildt
Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden, 9th YES Annual Meeting, 2012
«Europe offers not love but law to Ukraine which is more predictable»