Leaders from the 31 members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) met in Lithuania this week to discuss the goals and future of the alliance as war continues on the European continent.
Two non-NATO countries, Ukraine and Sweden, were in attendance as both work to join the alliance.
Sweden: Finland and Sweden broke long-held policies of neutrality when both countries applied to join NATO after Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine. Finland's application was approved in April, but Sweden's admission has been blocked by Turkey.
All NATO members must approve a new entry into the alliance, and up until now, Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan has firmly opposed Sweden, claiming the country is harboring members of the Kurdistan Workers Party, which Turkey classifies as a terrorist organization.
Following negotiations, Erdoğan said he would life his personal oppositions, but that Sweden still needed to win the support of Turkish parliament in the coming months.
Ukraine: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy went to the summit in the midst of a Ukrainian counter-offense that reports indicate is yielding mixed results. Similarly, he received mixed results at the summit.
NATO leaders offered assurances that Ukraine was on track to membership, but didn't offer a clear timeline, likely because Ukraine wouldn't be admitted until the conflict with Russia ends.
"We're determined to commit every inch of territory that is NATO territory as a commitment that we've all made no matter what," President Biden said. "If the war is going on, then we're all in a war."
These conditions frustrated Zelenskyy, who initially labeled them "absurd" but later softened his rhetoric.
How the Media Covered It: Left- and center-rated outlets covered the summit more. On the issue of Turkey, analysis determined that Erdoğan's mixed messages were a play to maintain leverage over Sweden in the coming months.
Voices were divided on the topic of Ukraine joining NATO. Roughly split along party lines, left-rated media appeared more in favor of adding Ukraine to the alliance, while right-rated media appeared more opposed.
Voices on the right highlighted how a stronger push to add Ukraine to the alliance could splinter the unity of the group and escalate the conflict into a larger war. Voices on the left highlighted efforts made by Ukraine to meet the criteria for the alliance and emphasized the plight of the Ukrainian people.
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Snippets from the Left
"If a couple had been dating and then one member proposed marriage 'when our families agree and when conditions are met' it is highly unlikely an engagement party would follow. Zelensky responded as a man leading a nation at war naturally would, frustrated at the lack of a concrete road map toward accession."
"NATO is working exactly as it was designed by postwar U.S. planners, drawing Europe into a dependency on American power that reduces its room for maneuver. Far from a costly charity program, NATO secures American influence in Europe on the cheap."
Snippets from the Right
"Even offering a pathway to NATO for Ukraine would, given the war that has been fought on its territory since 2014, be meaningless, and quite possibly counterproductive, raising the possibility of splits within NATO and playing to Russia’s paranoia about the alliance, a paranoia that is shared by a considerable portion of the Russian population."
"Under Mr. Biden’s leadership, we have been far too slow in doling out military aid to Ukraine, which has prevented its forces from capitalizing on earlier routs of Russian troops. His hesitancy allows time to be used as a weapon against the Ukrainians."
Snippets from the Center
"Stopping the expansion of NATO was one reason Putin gave for his invasion of Ukraine, but the Russian leader now faces an even bigger alliance of 32 members instead of the pre-war bloc of 30, after Erdoğan dropped Ankara's objection to Stockholm's membership on Monday. Sweden is now to join Finland in abandoning decades of neutrality."
"For almost a year-and-a-half, Ukraine's demands have been heard and largely acted upon in western capitals. Kyiv has always been unsatisfied, it has always asked for more, and eventually the west has delivered... Yet in Vilnius, no meant no."