“As Ukraine continues its vital reforms, we will continue to support them on the irreversible path to NATO membership. The work we are doing together now will ensure that when the time is right, Ukraine can join without delay. It is not a question of if, but when,” said NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the Alliance’s summit in Washington.

“In this dangerous world, friends and partners are more important than ever,” he added.

In addition to deliveries of much-requested Patriot missile systems, now provided by the United States, Germany, Romania, and Italy, with parts for the systems pledged from the Netherlands. NATO members this week also updated Ukraine on its deliveries of F-16 aircraft.

The US, Netherlands, and Denmark announced that the transfer of the fighter jets to Kyiv was “now underway” and they would be operational in the skies this summer, AFP reported.

Several members have promised to send dozens of F-16 fighters to Ukraine in the coming years.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the F-16 transfer “concentrates Vladimir Putin’s mind on the fact that he will not outlast Ukraine, he will not outlast us and, if he persists, the damage that will continue to be done to Russia and its interests will only deepen.”

There has also been a “Trump-proofing” of future Alliance leadership, AFP continued, as NATO will take over a greater role from the United States in coordinating training and weapons deliveries for Ukraine by setting up a centralized command. 

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In this way, if the NATO-skeptic and Kremlin-friendly Donald Trump (who also has a soured relationship with Kyiv due to his failed attempt to blackmail the administration in his losing 2020 presidential bid) were to win the US presidency in November, much of the mechanisms of NATO’s Ukraine aid would be in motion already and beyond his direct control.

“The change will see hundreds of personnel from different NATO members stationed at a base in Germany, and key hubs along the alliance’s eastern flank,” AFP wrote.

In the meantime, the allies pledged to continue their current level of support for Kyiv, amounting to almost $40 billion per year.

“Through proportional contributions, allies intend to provide a minimum baseline funding of €40 billion within the next year, and to provide sustainable levels of security assistance for Ukraine to prevail,” a summit declaration said. 

George Clooney and Nancy Pelosi are the latest to suggest Biden step aside

Several high-profile Democrats have joined the chorus asking for US President Joe Biden to abandon his re-election campaign, after mounting signals that he is no longer mentally sharp enough to beat Trump in November.

In a New York Times op-ed authored by Hollywood megastar and big-time Democrat donor George Clooney, published just three weeks after he co-hosted a huge fundraiser in Los Angeles for Biden that raised nearly $30 million, Clooney wrote, “It’s devastating to say it, but the Joe Biden I was with three weeks ago at the fundraiser was not the Joe ‘big F-ing deal’ Biden of 2010. He wasn’t even the Joe Biden of 2020. He was the same man we all witnessed at the debate.”

In a late-June debate with Trump hosted by CNN, Biden appeared confused and often at a loss for words, sending US Democrats and Western allies worried about a Trump return to the Oval Office into a frenzy.

In the New York Times editorial, Clooney said Biden would lose the presidential election.

Fellow Hollywood icon and near-billionaire Michael Douglas (star of the 1980s classics “Wall Street”, “Fatal Attraction” and “Romancing the Stone”) said on Wednesday he was “deeply, deeply” concerned about Biden’s chances of beating Trump.

Perhaps the worst for Biden, one of his closest long-time political allies, Nancy Pelosi, former Speaker of the House of Representatives, sounded tepid at best on Wednesday on his chances of carrying the Democratic mantle into November.

“We’re all encouraging him to make that decision because the time is running short,” she told MSNBC, saying he should delay any final decision until after the NATO summit in Washington, which ends on Thursday.

Zaluzhny starts as UK ambassador as Europe’s diplomatic corps is busy shaming Orban

Valery Zaluzhny, the former Commander-in-Chief of Ukraine’s Armed Forces (AFU), began his tenure as ambassador to the United Kingdom on Wednesday, at a time when Europe’s diplomats were busy wondering what to do about Viktor Orban, Prime Minister of Hungary and current roguish holder of the rotating EU presidency.

Zaluzhny, who was appointed as Kyiv’s chief of mission to the UK in March of this year, about a month after he was sacked as the head of the AFU, and after an almost three-year stewardship in that military role, took over his civic duties in London on Wednesday.

His tenure begins as the EU bloc, of which, of course, the UK is no longer a member, considers its options on censuring Orban, who has used his new platform to entertain so-called “peace talks” with Moscow and Beijing, neither of which had been approved by Brussels.

For one, Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson, whose country is the latest to join NATO, said that it was “irresponsible and disloyal” of Orban to use Hungary’s presidency in the EU to visit Russia’s autocratic president Vladimir Putin.

“It sends the wrong signal to the outside world and is an insult to the Ukrainian people’s fight for their freedom,” he said. “He does not speak for the European Union and not for other EU Heads of State or Government,” Kristersson added.

John Moretti