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Nato summit live: let us use weapons anywhere in Russia, Ukrainian official tells allies

Ukraine official calls for end to limits on use of allied-supplied arms

Ukraine’s top presidential aide on Thursday called for an end to restrictions imposed on the use of allied-supplied weapons against targets deep inside Russia, saying it would be a “gamechanger” in fighting Moscow’s occupation, reports Reuters.

Andriy Yermak did not name any specific country’s restrictions but his comment came days after the White House reaffirmed a prohibition on Ukraine conducting strikes deep inside Russia with US-supplied arms, following a Russian missile strike on a Kyiv children’s hospital.

“The partners have to take off any restrictions to use weapons not just by Ukrainian territory but have the possibility to answer [Russian attacks] including the territory of Russia,” Yermak told a public forum on the final day of the 2024 Nato summit.

“It’s impossible to fight them,” he continued, noting that Russia does not have “any restrictions. The enemy can directly attack to our civilians, children’s hospitals, schools and we have these restrictions.”

“It will be a real gamechanger” if Ukraine’s allies lift all limits on its use of their weapons “and I hope that our partners understand that and agree this decisions as soon as possible,” said Yermak, chief of staff to Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

US president Joe Biden’s administration permits Ukraine to use US-supplied arms against targets just inside Russia that are supporting Russian offensive operations in Ukraine, but prohibits their use for strikes deep inside Russian territory.

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Key events

Summary of the day so far

I will shortly be handing over the Nato summit live blog to my US colleagues, but first, here is a summary of the day so far:

  • Ukraine’s top presidential aide on Thursday called for an end to restrictions imposed on the use of allied-supplied weapons against targets deep inside Russia, saying it would be a “gamechanger” in fighting Moscow’s occupation. Andriy Yermak, speaking at a public forum on the final day of the 2024 Nato summit, did not name any specific country’s restrictions but his comment came days after the White House reaffirmed a prohibition on Ukraine conducting strikes deep inside Russia with US-supplied arms.

  • Hungary does not want, and will not support, Nato becoming an “anti-China” bloc, foreign minister Peter Szijjarto told Hungary’s state television while in Washington DC on Thursday. Speaking on the sidelines of a Nato summit, Szijjarto also said Ukraine’s admission to the alliance would weaken unity within the group

  • US president, Joe Biden, is expected to announce a new $225m aid package for Ukraine, including an additional Patriot missile system to bolster its air defences, reports the Associated Press (AP). Two US officials said the announcement is expected to be made during Biden’s meeting on Thursday with the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy. The officials spoke to the AP on the condition of anonymity to provide details of the aid before the public announcement.

  • Biden is scheduled to face journalists at a news conference marking the end of Nato’s 75th anniversary summit at 6.30pm EDT. The US president’s press conference, which will include questions from reporters, is certain to be scrutinised for any signs of slip-ups.

  • Biden, and his Nato counterparts were set on Thursday to hold talks with Asia-Pacific leaders and Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy amid concerns about growing support from China and North Korea for the Russian invasion. The flurry of final events at the Nato summit come a day after Nato labeled China a “decisive enabler” of Russia’s war against Ukraine. China in turn accused Nato of seeking security at the expense of others and warned the military alliance not to bring the same “chaos” to Asia.

Leaders and officials attend a session of the Nato summit with Indo-Pacific partners on Thursday. Photograph: Matt Rourke/AP
  • Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Thursday that any possibility of a direct confrontation between Russia and Nato was “worrying”. He added: “Any steps that could lead to this outcome should be consciously avoided.”

  • Hungary’s prime minister, Viktor Orbán, will fly to Mar-a-Lago on Thursday to meet with Donald Trump, according to two sources with knowledge of the meeting. Orbán has enraged his Nato allies by meeting with Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping en route to the alliance’s summit in Washington DC. He has also met with Zelenskiy in Kyiv, and is said to be quietly negotiating his own ceasefire plan without consulting either the Biden administration or other EU countries.

  • Biden has appeared to back Keir Starmer’s ambition for the UK having a closer relationship with the EU as the leaders held their first bilateral talks at the White House on Wednesday evening. The US president called the US and the UK the “best of allies” as he met the new prime minister in the Oval Office, describing the UK as the “knot” that tied the transatlantic relationship together.

  • Starmer defended Biden’s leadership credentials amid questions about the US president’s cognitive health, after meeting the president for their first bilateral talks. Starmer told the BBC that Biden had been “across all the detail”.

  • France, Germany, Italy and Poland signed a letter of intent on Thursday to develop ground-launched cruise missiles with a range beyond 500km (310 miles), aiming to fill what they say is a gap in European arsenals exposed by Russia’s war in Ukraine. Speaking on the sidelines of the Nato summit in Washington DC after the signing ceremony, French defence minister Sébastien Lecornu said the new missile was meant to serve as a deterrent.

  • Norway will donate 1bn Norwegian kroner ($92.69m) in support to Ukraine for its air defence, prime minister Jonas Gahr Støre said at the Nato summit on Thursday. The donation comes a day after Norway announced it would give six F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine to help it in defence efforts against Russian air attacks.

French president, Emmanuel Macron (L), Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau (C), and the prime minister of Denmark, Mette Frederiksen (R), on the final day of the Nato summit in Washington DC. Photograph: Shawn Thew/EPA
  • Russia will act to counter the planned US deployment of long-range missiles in Germany, the Kremlin said on Thursday, as it regarded the Nato military alliance’s actions as a serious threat to Russia’s national security.

  • Germany’s chancellor Olaf Scholz said that France remained a key partner on the international stage as leader Emmanuel Macron struggles to build a coalition government after elections. “France will be on the international agenda a big partner, a strong partner of all of us, and especially a partner for Germany,” Scholz said at the Nato summit on Thursday.

  • Romania, Bulgaria and Greece signed a deal on Thursday to enable swift cross-border movement of troops and weapons to Nato’s eastern flank, Romania’s defence ministry said. The planned harmonised military mobility corridor between the three Nato and EU states was one of two such mobility corridors agreed on the sidelines of the Nato summit in Washington DC.

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US president, Joe Biden, is expected to announce a new $225m aid package for Ukraine, including an additional Patriot missile system to bolster its air defences, reports the Associated Press (AP).

Two US officials said the announcement is expected to be made during Biden’s meeting on Thursday with the Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy. The officials spoke to the AP on the condition of anonymity to provide details of the aid before the public announcement.

The Patriot air defence system, the second the US has provided to Ukraine, is one of several Biden announced this week at the Nato summit and is part of a swell of pledges to get weapons to Ukraine to help it fend off Russian attacks.

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The UK prime minister, Keir Starmer, defended Joe Biden’s leadership credentials amid questions about the US president’s cognitive health, which have intensified since criticism of his performance in a TV debate against Donald Trump last month.

Starmer who met the president for their first bilateral talks at the White House on Wednesday as Nato leaders gathered in Washington DC to discuss the challenges facing the bloc, said Biden had been “across all the detail”.

According to the PA news agency, Starmer told broadcasters their one-to-one discussions had happened “at pace” and Biden seemed “on really good form”.

“We were billed for 45 minutes, we went on for the best part of an hour,” he said. “He was absolutely across all the detail. We were going at pace through a number of issues.”

Asked by a reporter whether the president was senile, Starmer told the BBC:

No … he’s shown incredible leadership. If there’s one thing that came out of the council session yesterday it was a clear understanding by everybody here that we’re faced with more threats now than we’ve faced for many years, and that we need the resolve of Nato.

President Biden has led through some of the most challenging issues, actually, that we’re facing globally.”

Starmer’s latest comments come after the two leaders spoke on the sidelines of the Nato summit as the prime minister seeks to strengthen what he called the “very special relationship” between the UK and US.

Meanwhile, Biden earlier appeared to back Starmer’s push for the UK to forge closer defence ties with Europe, as he called the UK the “transatlantic knot”.

The PA news agency reports that Starmer wants an ambitious new UK-EU security pact to strengthen cooperation and seeks closer work on defence with key allies such as France and Germany. Biden said: “I kind of see you guys as the knot tying the transatlantic alliance together, the closer you are with Europe. We know where you are, you know where we are.”

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Flora Garamvolgyi

Hungary’s prime minister, Viktor Orbán, will fly to Mar-a-Lago on Thursday to meet with Donald Trump, according to two sources with knowledge of the meeting.

Orbán has enraged his Nato allies by meeting with Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping en route to the alliance’s summit in Washington DC. He has also met with Volodymyr Zelenskiy in Kyiv, and is said to be quietly negotiating his own ceasefire plan without consulting either the Biden administration or other EU countries.

The two men will meet at Mar-a-Lago at 7pm, a source close to Trump said. Orban’s 606 Dassault Falcon jet was one of the several international planes that flew into Joint Base Andrews on Tuesday to attend the 2024 Nato summit. As of 10.30am eastern time on Thursday, the Hungarian military plane was still parked in Maryland.

Orbán did not discuss details of his negotiations with Putin or Xi with the Biden administration. Three sources briefed on the summit preparations said that he did not ask for a bilateral meeting with Joe Biden. EU countries have complained that Orbán is negotiating without their consent as Hungary currently holds the presidency of the European Council.

Orbán and his campaign advisers have fully backed Trump for re-election in November. His foreign minister, Péter Szijjártó, told Reuters: “We see a chance for peace if President Trump is winning. We see a chance for good Hungary-US relationships if President Trump is winning.”

You can read the full piece by Flora Garamvolgyi, Andrew Roth and Hugo Lowell here:

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Robert Tait

Robert Tait

My colleague in the US, Robert Tait has written about how Joe Biden’s Nato speech later poses a major test for his campaign as calls mount for him to step down. He writes:

The press conference, which will include questions from reporters, is certain to be scrutinised minutely for any signs of verbal slip-up or mental frailty resembling those Biden displayed in the debate.

The event is the kind of unscripted set piece that Biden’s staff stand accused of shielding him from, and any repeat of the calamitous debate display could turn the steady trickle of public calls for Biden to stand aside into a flood.

Some of Biden’s most loyal acolytes at the top of the Democratic party have issued less than full-throated statements of support in recent days.

Chuck Schumer, the Senate majority leader, who has repeated the mantra “I’m for Joe” throughout the crisis, was reported to have signalled openness to having the president replaced at the top of the presidential ticket.

Axios reported that Schumer had been taking close account of the feelings of party donors and fellow senators in the 12 days since Biden’s meltdown in the 27 June debate, when he plunged the viability of his candidacy into doubt by abjectly failing to defend his own policies or counter Trump’s lies.

“As I have made clear repeatedly publicly and privately, I support President Biden and remain committed to ensuring Donald Trump is defeated in November,” Schumer said, in comments that fell short of a ringing endorsement. On Wednesday, Peter Welch of Vermont became the first Democratic senator to publicly tell Biden to step aside. Nine members of the House of Representatives have already done so.

“He saved us from Donald Trump once and wants to do it again. But he needs to reassess whether he is the best candidate to do so. In my view, he is not,” Welch wrote in a Washington Post opinion piece.

You can read the full piece here:

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Here are some images from the Nato summit today, courtesy of the newswires:

European Council president Charles Michel speaks during his arrival at the Nato summit in Washington DC. Photograph: Mark Schiefelbein/AP
Prime minister of Denmark Mette Frederiksen attends a working session on Thursday at the Nato summit. Photograph: Susan Walsh/AP
US president, Joe Biden (R), and UK prime minister, Kier Starmer, converse as they participate in a working session at the Nato summit. Photograph: Chris Kleponis/EPA
Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan attends a meeting of the North Atlantic Council during Nato’s 75th anniversary summit in Washington DC. Photograph: Leah Millis/Reuters
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France, Germany, Italy and Poland agree to jointly develop long-range cruise missiles

France, Germany, Italy and Poland signed a letter of intent on Thursday to develop ground-launched cruise missiles with a range beyond 500km (310 miles), aiming to fill what they say is a gap in European arsenals exposed by Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Reuters reports that speaking on the sidelines of the Nato summit in Washington DC after the signing ceremony, French defence minister Sébastien Lecornu said the new missile was meant to serve as a deterrent.

“The idea is to open it up as widely as possible,” he told reporters, and suggested the UK’s new Labour government could join. “It has value, including on a budgetary level, because it obviously also allows the various costs to be amortized.”

A first draft of the weapon might be sketched out by the end of the year, he said, with the specifications such as the range to be worked out in more detail later.

He was speaking one day after the US and Germany announced they would begin deploying US long-range missiles on German soil in 2026, including the SM-6, Tomahawks and developmental hypersonic weapons.

The deployment, condemned by Moscow as a “very serious threat” to Russian national security, is seen as a stopgap solution until Europe has its own long-range missiles ready, reports Reuters.

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Germany’s chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Thursday that France remained a key partner on the international stage as leader Emmanuel Macron struggles to build a coalition government after elections, reports Agence France-Presse (AFP).

“France will be on the international agenda a big partner, a strong partner of all of us, and especially a partner for Germany,” Scholz said at the Nato summit in Washington DC.

Scholz said he was “delighted” that the second round of voting in France over the weekend had not given the far-right a majority.

“It’s now the task of the politicians to find a solution and to make something out of it,” Scholz said. “I’m quite confident that they will in the end.”

The stalemate in France has seen questions raised over whether Macron and France can continue to play a central role in Nato and the EU, reports AFP.

“France has a strong president who is acting in the international scene,” Scholz said. “I had yesterday a very good exchange with my friend Emmanuel Macron, so I’m not wondering what will happen,” he added.

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US president, Joe Biden, will hold a solo press conference at the Nato summit on Thursday, his first time facing the press alone since November, reports Reuters.

Biden, will take an unspecified number of questions from reporters, in an event expected to last about as long as November’s, which ran to 21 minutes. The press conference is expected to begin at 6.30pm EDT (10.30pm GMT/11.30pm BST).

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Ukraine official calls for end to limits on use of allied-supplied arms

Ukraine’s top presidential aide on Thursday called for an end to restrictions imposed on the use of allied-supplied weapons against targets deep inside Russia, saying it would be a “gamechanger” in fighting Moscow’s occupation, reports Reuters.

Andriy Yermak did not name any specific country’s restrictions but his comment came days after the White House reaffirmed a prohibition on Ukraine conducting strikes deep inside Russia with US-supplied arms, following a Russian missile strike on a Kyiv children’s hospital.

“The partners have to take off any restrictions to use weapons not just by Ukrainian territory but have the possibility to answer [Russian attacks] including the territory of Russia,” Yermak told a public forum on the final day of the 2024 Nato summit.

“It’s impossible to fight them,” he continued, noting that Russia does not have “any restrictions. The enemy can directly attack to our civilians, children’s hospitals, schools and we have these restrictions.”

“It will be a real gamechanger” if Ukraine’s allies lift all limits on its use of their weapons “and I hope that our partners understand that and agree this decisions as soon as possible,” said Yermak, chief of staff to Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

US president Joe Biden’s administration permits Ukraine to use US-supplied arms against targets just inside Russia that are supporting Russian offensive operations in Ukraine, but prohibits their use for strikes deep inside Russian territory.

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Romania, Bulgaria and Greece signed a deal on Thursday to enable swift cross-border movement of troops and weapons to Nato’s eastern flank, Romania’s defence ministry said.

Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine has increased the urgency both for Nato and the EU to speed up preparations, including the ability to quickly send reinforcements, in case of a sudden conflict with Moscow. Nato has told its members that too much red tape is hindering troop movements across Europe.

Reuters reports that the planned harmonised military mobility corridor between the three Nato and EU states was one of two such mobility corridors agreed on the sidelines of the Nato summit in Washington DC.

It aims “to optimise transport corridors to respond to military mobility needs by creating road and rail supply lines between the participating states, reducing peacetime bureaucracy and maximising efficiency in case of emergency situations,” the Romanian ministry said.

The three states could also connect their ports in the Aegean and Black seas. Romania and Bulgaria are already a part of a joint effort with Turkey to defuse stray mines in the Black Sea, says Reuters.

On Thursday, the Romanian and Bulgarian defence ministers also signed a memorandum to establish a regional special operations command centre which will plan and manage the alliance’s special operations forces in the Black Sea region.

I signed with Minister Zapryanov the MoU between the Defense Ministries of 🇷🇴 & 🇧🇬 to establish the Regional Command for Special Operations (HQ R-SOCC). This key project aims to enhance bilateral cooperation and allied security, fully operational by end of 2024. pic.twitter.com/cY91DbG3ka

— Angel Tîlvăr (@AngelTilvar) July 11, 2024

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Nato leaders meet with Asia-Pacific partners as tensions mount with China

US president, Joe Biden, and his Nato counterparts were set on Thursday to hold talks with Asia-Pacific leaders and Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy amid concerns about growing support from China and North Korea for the Russian invasion.

Later, all eyes will be on Biden as he closes the summit of 32 Nato leaders in Washington DC with a news conference. It will provide a fresh chance for him to prove to watchers that he is capable of serving another four years after a shaky debate performance threw the future of his presidency into doubt.

The flurry of final events at the Nato summit come a day after Nato labeled China a “decisive enabler” of Russia’s war against Ukraine. China in turn accused Nato of seeking security at the expense of others and warned the military alliance not to bring the same “chaos” to Asia.

Nato secretary general Jens Stoltenberg and South Korea’s president Yoon Suk Yeol leave after a bilateral meeting on Thursday at Nato’s 75th anniversary summit in Washington DC. Photograph: Yves Herman/Reuters

“We appreciate the close partnership with your country, and not least because our security is not regional, it is global,” Nato secretary general Jens Stoltenberg said as he welcomed South Korean president Yoon Suk Yeol for the last day of the alliance’s summit, reports the Associated Press (AP). “This is clearly illustrated by the war in Ukraine,” Stoltenberg added.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, who is also taking part in the talks, said it was important to draw all partners into a conversation on how to ensure stability, notably as China strengthens its ties with Russia, but also in the Asia-Pacific region.

“China is supporting a Russia in the name of this unlimited friendship. [North] Korea is one of the most important suppliers of raw material to Russia,” he told reporters. He noted that maritime border tensions “in the Indo-Pacific puts a threat to the stability of the whole region.”

Zelenskiy will join allied leaders later for a Nato-Ukraine Council, a forum set up a year ago for the 32 allies and Kyiv to meet on an equal footing to share concerns and information.

On Wednesday, Nato leaders promised Ukraine that it is on an “irreversible path” to membership, although it can only join sometime after the war, when the allies agree that it has met all the conditions.

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German chancellor Olaf Scholz praised a plan to allow the deployment of US long-range missiles in his country, saying it fits perfectly into Germany’s own deterrence strategy, reports Reuters.

“This decision has been a long time in the making and comes as no real surprise to anyone involved in security and peace policy,” Scholz told reporters at the Nato summit in Washington DC.

“After all, it fits in perfectly with the German government’s security strategy,” he added on Thursday.

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Nato secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, has met Japan’s prime minister, Fumio Kishida, and South Korea’s president, Yoon Suk Yeol, at the Nato summit today.

Good to meet @President_KR Yoon Suk Yeol at the #NATOSummit. South Korea is a valued partner to #NATO & I welcome the signing of a NATO airworthiness recognition certificate – increasing interoperability. We also agreed to step up information exchange related to North Korea. pic.twitter.com/ONKytxlO6a

— Jens Stoltenberg (@jensstoltenberg) July 11, 2024

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The Nato foreign ministers’ meeting sees (left to right): US secretary of state Antony Blinken, France’s political director Frédéric Mondoloni, Canada’s foreign minister Mélanie Joly, Italy’s foreign minister Antonio Tajani, Japan’s political director Takehiro Funakoshi, Germany’s foreign minister Annalena Baerbock, British foreign secretary David Lammy, and EU high representative Josep Borrell gather in Washington DC. Photograph: Alessandro Di Meo/EPA
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Ukraine’s top presidential aide said on Thursday that the nation, which has been at war with Russia since 2022, is “satisfied” with the outcome of the Nato summit in Washington DC.

Andriy Yermak, the chief of the Ukrainian president’s cabinet, said the “next step” should be an invitation to Ukraine to join Nato.

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