Leaders gather in DC for NATO’s 75th anniversary summit

The leaders of NATO’s 32 member states are arriving in the US capital Tuesday as the Transatlantic alliance prepares to celebrate its 75th anniversary with a three-day summit in which the ongoing war in Ukraine is expected to feature prominently. 

The gathering will run from July 9-11, with most events taking place at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in downtown Washington, D.C. where security has been significantly tightened. Additional meetings are slated to take place at the State Department, the US Chamber of Commerce and the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium.

The first leader-level event will take place Tuesday evening when NATO holds a celebratory event at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium to mark its 75th year. Both NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and US President Joe Biden are expected to deliver remarks.

The meetings will include the heads of state and government from all 32 member countries, in addition to the leaders of the alliance’s Indo-Pacific Partners — Australia, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will represent Türkiye at the summit.

Biden will host national leaders for a social dinner at the White House Wednesday evening. Simultaneously, Secretary of State Antony Blinken will host foreign ministers for dinner at the Library of Congress and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will do the same for his counterparts at Fort McNair.

Looming large over this week’s discussions will be maintaining and building on the alliance’s support for Ukraine with the future of critical American assistance unclear ahead of November’s presidential election.

Emphasizing the dominant role that Ukraine will play in the conversations, Stoltenberg, the NATO chief, said last week that ensuring continued support from the alliance’s members is “our most urgent task” during the looming gathering. He said he expects that leaders “will agree a substantial package for Ukraine” during the meeting.

In a potential effort to prevent disruptions in military assistance that may result from ex-President Donald Trump’s potential re-election in November, Stoltenberg said the alliance will formally “take over the coordination and provision of most international security assistance” for Ukraine, including by standing up a command center led by a three-star general and several hundred military personnel at a NATO headquarters in Germany. Additional “logistical nodes” will be established in member states along NATO’s eastern flank.

Russia’s growing ties with China, as well as Beijing’s increasingly assertive role in the Indo-Pacific and the Atlantic, have heightened the alliance’s focus on China in recent years. Allies are also expected to work towards strengthening ties with their Pacific partners during the three-day gathering.

That will most prominently take place during a meeting of the North Atlantic Council, NATO’s principal political decision-making body, and Indo-Pacific Partners and the EU Thursday morning. The meeting will be followed by a convening of the NATO-Ukraine Council at the leader level Thursday afternoon.

The summit will conclude with Stoltenberg and Biden’s press conferences Thursday evening.​​​​​​​

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