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NATO Chief: Allies Agree on Strong, Positive Message to Ukraine about Future Membership; NATO Chief Talks to Reporters at High-Stakes Summit; World Leaders in Lithuania for NATO Meeting; Ukrainian President Addresses Crowd in Lithuania; Zelenskyy: Ukraine will make NATO Stronger; Heavy Rainfall Kills at least Six People in Japan. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired July 11, 2023 - 11:00   ET




ELENI GIOKOS, CNN HOST, CONNECT THE WORLD: Welcome to our second hour of "Connect the World". The White House is heralding Turkey's about face on

Sweden's NATO bid. The major development came on the eve of the NATO Summit in Vilnius today. I'd like to now take you to Vilnius, Lithuania at the

NATO Summit we're hearing from NATO Chief Jens Stoltenberg.

JENS STOLTENBERG, NATO SECREATARY GENERAL: As a full member of the alliance based on the agreement reached last night with President Erdogan and the

Prime Minister. We also addressed Ukraine.

Since we last met an Erdogan at our Madrid Summit, NATO allies have delivered unprecedented support to Ukraine with more ammunition, more

modern equipment and more training to the Ukrainian forces. Today, allies have agreed the package of three elements to bring Ukraine closer to NATO.

First, a new multiyear assistance program for Ukraine to enable the transition from Soviet era to NATO standard training and doctrines to help

rebuild the Ukraine security and defense sector and to cover critical needs like fuel the mining equipment and medical supplies.

Second a new NATO Ukraine Council a forum for crisis consultations and decision making where we will meet as equals. And I look forward to having

the inaugural meeting of the Council tomorrow with President Zelenskyy.

Third, we reaffirmed that Ukraine will become a member of NATO and agreed to remove the requirement for a Membership Action Plan. This will change

Ukraine's membership path from a two-step process to a one step process.

We also made clear that we will issue an invitation for Ukraine to join NATO when allies agree and conditions are met. This is a strong package for

Ukraine, and a clear path towards its membership in NATO.

Allies have also proved the most comprehensive defense plan since the end of the Cold War. These are designed to counter the two main threats we

face, Russia and terrorism. Under our new plans, NATO aims to have 300,000 troops at high readiness, including substantial air and naval power.

Robust deterrence and defense requires a robust industrial base, so leaders endorsed the new defense production action plan. This will accelerate joint

procurement, boost interoperability, and generate investment and production capacity.

To do all this, we need to invest more in defense. Our latest estimate shows that the defense expenditure by European allies and Canada will

increase by 8.3 percent in 2023; this is the biggest increase in decades. Since 2014, they will have invested an extra $450 billion in defense. 11

allies now reach or exceed the 2 percent benchmark.

And we expect this number will rise substantially next year. Today allies made an enduring commitment to invest at least 2 percent of gross domestic

product annually in defense and to do more urgently to meet their commitments. NATO Leaders also addressed China, China is not our adversary

and we should continue to engage.

But Beijing's increasing assertiveness affects our security. China is increasingly challenging the rules based international order, refusing to

condemn Russia's war against Ukraine, threatening Taiwan and carrying out substantial military buildup.

China's nuclear modernization is unprecedented in speed and scale and being carried out with no transparency. Allies agreed to continue working

together to protect against China's coercive behavior. And tomorrow we will meet the leaders of Australia, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea as well

as the European Union because we are stronger and safer when we stand together and with that I'm ready to take a few questions?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Let's start with Washington Post. There in the middle.


MICHAEL BIRNBAUM, REPORTER: Hi, thanks for taking my question, Michael Birnbaum from the Washington Post. President Zelenskyy, of course, issued a

tweet in the middle of your talks that criticize the language that you've just agreed to on Ukraine's path toward membership.

I was wondering what your thought was when you saw what he was saying about what NATO was agreeing to and what your message would be for Ukrainians who

are disappointed by this language. Thanks.

STOLTENBERG: Well, the allies have agreed today is strong, united and positive message to Ukraine about enduring support, but also a positive

message or message on the path forward for membership. And this includes this package of practical support to enable full interoperability between

Ukrainian armed forces and NATO forces.

The establishment on the NATO Ukraine Council, and then the decision to remove the requirement for Membership Action Plan, which actually means

that instead of two steps to become a member, there will be one step.

And we also made it clear that the invitation will be issued when conditions are met. Then I would like to add that on top of that, of

course, allies are also providing substantial military support, because the most urgent task now is to ensure that Ukraine prevails, because unless

Ukraine prevails there is no membership issue to be discussed at all.

And therefore I welcome the military support our allies have provided now for months, actually starting back in 2014 and then, since the full-fledged

nation in February last year, substantially stepping up the support.

And just over the last few days, allies have made substantial new announcements. France has announced that they will deliver long range

cruise missiles. Germany just announced a new package with air defense and armored vehicles.

And the U.S. made yet another big announcement of more military support. And many other allies have made different types of support, including the

establishment or coalition to provide training for F-16 fighter jets. So put together this is a strong message, which sends a positive and united

message to Kyiv.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We'll go to the Ukrainian News Agency in the third row.

DIMITRY (ph): Dimitry (ph) National News Agency of Ukraine here. Thank you for question. Just to follow up my colleague. Can we expect today final

communique on Ukraine and we can expect it tomorrow. And could you please specify what kind of conditions Ukraine still need to fulfill to initiate

the accession procedure and to get an invitation? Thank you.

STOLTENBERG: We have agreed that communique and he also agreed the package for Ukraine that was agreed by the leaders. And I refer to the main

elements now. The practical support the political ties with the NATO Ukraine Council full interoperability, the removal of the Membership Action


And then of course, also, all the different things those allies are providing by laterally including with the new announcements we have heard

today and the last few days. I have been in close contact and the regular contact and NATO allies. I've also been in regular contact with Ukrainian


I've discussed this also with President Zelenskyy. And I look forward to meet him tonight. And then also to have the inaugural meeting of the NATO

Ukraine Council tomorrow where I will set out the package or the three elements bringing Ukraine closer to NATO and this is a strong package.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Reuters. Andrew maybe you can just ask your question?


ANDREW GRAY, SENIOR CORRESPONDENT FOR EUROPEAN SECURITY AND DIPLOMACY: Andrew Gray from Reuters. As Secretary General to come back to President

Zelenskyy's remarks, he said it would be absurd if the timeframe is set neither for invitation, nor for Ukraine's membership. How would you respond

to that specific point and why have allies not set out a timeframe today?

STOLTENBERG: What we have agreed is a very substantive package with many different elements that helps to move Ukraine closer to NATO, help them to

move towards NATO membership. And this is partly a very practical support on for instance, interoperability, and reforms, defense sector reforms and

interoperability are among the conditions which are important for a membership.

So that's a practical way of moving them and moving Ukraine closer to NATO. Then we also send a strong political message with the language on a

membership, including the language, which is now in the communique on invitation.

So there has never been a stronger message from NATO at any time, both when it comes to the political message on the path forward for membership, and

the concrete support from NATO allies military support, but also the practical support on how to ensure full interoperability.

So and if you look at all the membership processes, there are not been time lines for those processes. They are conditions based has always been.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Again we'll go to the gentleman here in the second row.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Inaudible) from Finland. Mr. Secretary General, the Baltic Sea becomes NATO's inland sea, NATO puts 300,000 new troops on high

readiness. What does all this mean for frontline countries like Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland? And what is NATO's message to Mr.

Putin and Russia? How historic is this moment? Thank you.

STOLTENBERG: It is historic that both Finland and Sweden will become members of NATO. Finland is already a full member. And with the agreement

that President Erdogan and Prime Minister -- and I were able to make last night.

Sweden has also become a full member of the alliance. This is historic, it's important for the whole alliance. It's important for Finland is

important for Sweden, but this also in particular important for the Baltic region.

Because when you look at the map, you realize that for instance, this the ability to reinforce the Baltic region is very much improved by the fact

that you now Finland and soon Sweden also as full members, and that will be reflected in our defense plans and our exercises in our KPT targets and

everything else, we do ask the alliance.

So it makes the whole alliance stronger. And it makes especially the Baltic region safer. It sends the message that NATO store is open, it sends the

message that is for NATO allies to decide on the lodgment not for Moscow, to deny sovereign nations the sovereign right to choose their own path.

And this is, again, something we have demonstrated not only in words, but also in deeds, by now allowing two new members and sending a message to

Ukraine, which is stronger than any message NATO has ever sent before or membership for Ukraine.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have the gentleman over there in the third row.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Inaudible) Ukraine. Secretary General, I would ask you to clarify a bit on conditions. I understand that you cannot list all of

them. It's probably not clear, but maybe it is to see how these conditions will be defined agreed?

Because I'm afraid that it will be read that NATO has lifted Membership Action Plan, but have invented another Membership Action Plan with another

name, which is conditioned so it's like making a bit of fake achievement. Thank you.

STOLTENBERG: No, what we say in the communique is that Ukraine has moved beyond the requirements for a Membership Action Plan just because Ukraine

has come much closer to NATO. I was actually attending the NATO Summit in Bucharest in 2008 as Norwegian Prime Minister.


And I remember very well, the discussion there. And of course, the discussion now it's totally different for many reasons. And not least

because Ukraine is under full fledge attack by Russia.

But also because Ukraine has come so much closer to this alliance over all these years, because especially since 2014, our NATO allies start to train

and equip Ukrainian armed forces but even more so after 20 after February last year, Ukraine has demonstrated capabilities, scales, and has been more

and more integrated with NATO.

This is also a consequence of the equipment which NATO allies are delivering, because for instance, when we deliver a modern battle tanks, or

advanced air defense systems, a consequence of that is also more interoperability, more NATO standards doctrines.

And the gradual movement from the Soviet era doctrines, standards and equipment to NATO just by the fact that so much equipment is now delivered.

And of course, when we start training with training pilots for F-16 it will even more add to this important interoperability, which has always been a

requirement for NATO membership.

So this is moving Ukraine closer to NATO and to NATO membership, and also reflecting the fact that NATO has come much closer. Well, we have

conditions partly in the article 10 of the transatlantic treaty, the Washington Treaty.

And then, of course, at the end of the day, it has to be allies that assess whether conditions are fully met or not. And that's exactly what allies had

to agree. And we also refer to both the conditions but also the need for all allies to -- that's the way we make decisions in NATO.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you, Secretary General. Just to follow up on this important topic, I have in front of me the text from 2008, from

Bucharest, which we've all been reading and rereading over the past weeks.

NATO welcomes Ukraine and Georgia as U.S. Atlantic aspirations membership in NATO. We agreed today that these countries will become members of NATO.

So if you were explaining just to the average citizen in the alliance and in Ukraine people who are really keen to understand what was decided today,

how would you explain the difference between the tax that was agreed in Bucharest in 2008 and the specific language that was agreed today?

STOLTENBERG: There are several differences. One important difference is that I think the next sentence or at least a bit further down, we say that

the next step is Membership Action Plan. And that's exactly what we removed today.

And at every Summit in 2008, we have said, Ukraine will become a member. And the next step is Membership Action Plan. Now we remove that. So that's

actually turning this process, which have always been two steps into one step that actually moves Ukraine closer to membership.

And it's a significant difference from the 2008 language, which has been reiterated at every summit since 2008. And it has been also a process in

NATO to make that decision because it was not a straightforward decision to make.

I'm glad that allies agreed and it was the main element in my package I launched in Oslo in May at informal meeting, then it will sources say

questions asked whether that was to move too fast. And therefore I'm glad that since May, since you started this discussion over removing a map

requirement all allies today have agreed to remove map requirements.

So that's difference number one. Difference number two is that we're not actually now has a program for how to help and support Ukraine move closer

to NATO? And that is the interoperability the multiyear program.

But also the strengthening of our political ties and also reference to that the foreign minister will in the text we agree today. Well, I will

constantly -- regularly assess progress. So this together with the fact that the substantial delivery of equipment and training just by itself

moves Ukraine closer to membership is a big, big difference. There is one more difference, and that is that in 2008, Ukraine was quite far from NATO.


What has happened since 2008 has all -- very close to us.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Secretary, you know, you mentioned the Swedish membership. You said it's historic.

GIOKOS: All right, hearing from Jens Stoltenberg at the NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania. I want to take you to a bilateral meeting now with

President Joe Biden and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Thank you for your diplomacy and your courage to take that on. And I want to thank you for

your leadership. Mr. President, the summit is here affirming our commitment to NATO defense, U.S. allies and NATO, and hope we can make it even

stronger. So welcome.

RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN, TURKISH PRESIDENT: Mr. President, my dear friend, I would like to first of all, thank you for congratulating me in the

aftermath of my re-election to my current post. And I'm grateful for the congratulatory messages that you have extended to me. And within the

framework of our strategic mechanism, I think it's high time for the heads of states to get together for further consultations.

That's why I believe today's meeting with you within the margin of the NATO summit is the first step forward. Our meetings prior to this, were mere

warm ups, but now we are initiating a new process. This new process is a process of five years, and now you're getting prepared for the forthcoming

elections. And with the forthcoming elections, I would like to take this opportunity to also wish you the best of luck. Thank you.

BIDEN: We look forward to meeting with you in the next five years.

GIOKOS: Right. We just saw President Joe Biden there with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Turkish president is thanking President Biden for

congratulating him on his recent election when we know that this conversation absolutely is going to continue. Big news is coming through,

with Turkish president opening the door for Sweden to enter NATO the NATO Summit currently underway in Vilnius in Lithuania a lot happening on the


We also heard from Jens Stoltenberg a short while ago, I've got a team on the ground to unpack all of this for us. Melissa Bell is in Vilnius and

Salma Abdelaziz is in London. Melissa, I want to start with you. And just going back to what we heard from Jens Stoltenberg, there were three main

points here, right.

So the first one is the issue of Ukraine and he categorically said, this is the first time we've been seeing such strong commitment from NATO with an

action plan on how Ukraine will join. We know that Ukraine wants timelines and a lot more, but Jen Stoltenberg saying, this is the plan. And this is

how we're going to do it, in fact, saying that they're going to circumvent some of the steps, take us through it.

MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, really sticking firm to his message that the best Ukraine could have hoped for was agreement, unanimity

amongst the 31 existing members of NATO on the question of removing this Membership Action Plan. So turning what he described as a two-step process

into a single step process.

Of course, you heard there in the questions from the reporters a reminder of what had been promised in 2008, pointing out that 15 years on and I

think this speaks to President Zelenskyy's frustration, as he tweeted setting off here to Vilnius that more hasn't been done.

Essentially, what he tweeted was his frustration at the idea that there was no timetable, even for the question of an invitation. What he'd said over

the weekend was that he accepted it might not be time for a technical invitation, but clearly he was hoping for more than just conditions to be

placed on the idea of Ukrainian accession.


Now, no doubt no surprise that there is frustration on one side and a celebration of some sort of unity in a substantial step according to Jen

Stoltenberg. On the other to the question that one of the reporters asked about why it wasn't possible to give more, why wasn't possible to fix the


Even if it's a difficult thing for the Secretary General of NATO to explain, fundamentally, the fear of NATO members who had wondered worried

about such commitment to a timetable being given what it would do, Eleni is that it would tie the question of Ukrainian accession, it would tie NATO to

the outcome of the war in Ukraine to -- to how it ends, in a way that was very uncomfortable for many of its leading members, including the United

States and Germany.

It simply wasn't something that NATO was prepared to do while hostilities continue and with the outcome, so uncertain. And when weighed the eye of

Moscow very much on what is happening here, so that both sides, one side has gone as far as it could and the other side is frustrated is perhaps not

a surprise.

We're now expecting comments to be made by President Zelenskyy, who's now here in Vilnius, no doubt along the same lines of what we heard in his

tweet disappointment that more could not have been done and yet, the fact of his presence, of course, a substantial victory.

Just very quickly on what we heard as well Eleni from the Turkish president starting that important bilateral meeting with his American counterpart.

Bear in mind that what Recep Tayyip Erdogan has secured here is not so much the beginnings of some kind of talk of enthusiasm for the looking again, at

the bid of Turkey, the European Union that has been stalled since 2018.

Those are words and little may come a bit at least anytime soon, more substantially. It is the question of the F-16s that Jake Sullivan was quite

clear on this morning saying that the Biden Administration was now committed to those.

This is a long standing request of Ankara; it had been denied this upgrade of key NATO equipment on the basis of its accepting of a Russian air and

defense system a few years ago. That in terms of what his brinkmanship Erdogan has achieved, is a substantial game that he can go home calling a


GIOKOS: Exactly a very good point there. There's so much to get through in terms of what the NATO chief said. I mean, I find it quite interesting that

there's going to be a NATO Ukraine Council, that forum is going to take place tomorrow, for the first time, that's going to be inaugural.

And I think it was interesting to see our NATO allies got together to think about this plan. I mean, the key message here is that Ukraine will join

NATO, but conditions have to be made. Salma, the other big piece of news coming through from Jens Stoltenberg and perhaps it was something that we

could have anticipated that defense spending needs to be ramped up.

And significantly, so for the year 2023, he says it'll increase by 8.3 percent. And that means more contributions by allies in terms of what they

contribute per percentage of GDP that is going to be significant to ramp up production. And that is going to be in place for the foreseeable future.

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Eleni and that's something that he's going to continue to push for. But I do want to take you, as we

heard there from our colleague, Melissa Bell to that sideline meeting that we saw moments after that presser, just a very brief meeting between wars,

the beginnings of a brief meeting between President Biden, of course, in Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the sidelines.

You heard President Biden thanking President Erdogan saying you have made us stronger, of course, a nod to Turkey now allowing the final hurdle,

allowing Sweden to join NATO. President Erdogan responded by saying thank you, my dear friend, and thank you for your congratulations on my election


I see this as the start of a five year process, of course, a nod to the link of term that he's won. And I think in these statements, you began to

get an indication of how both sides see that very important F-16 deal.

President Biden had said in an interview just a couple of days ago with our Fareed Zakaria that he believed that there could be an expansion of

military capabilities by allowing Turkey to purchase F-16 and expansion of military capabilities for NATO, while also allowing opening the door for

Sweden to join.

And indeed, that's exactly what he got. But, of course, while there's a lot of smiles in Lithuania, at the NATO summit to this big announcement,

there's a great deal of frowns in Moscow, the Kremlin has called the deal provocative, unfriendly. And in many ways this is a surprise to President



If you take a step back, President Erdogan has all along played this very delicate balancing act throughout this conflict trying to strengthen what

he calls a special relationship with President Putin, while positioning himself as a power broker in the middle and also maintaining his

relationships with Western partners.

The question is he now shifting? Is he turning his back ever so slightly away from Moscow, you have some $60 billion annually in trade between

Russia and Turkey. So it's unlikely that's the case. But you are looking at President Erdogan ever, the pragmatist extracting as much as he can, at a

very critical moment during this NATO Summit.

And at a time when President Putin perhaps looks weaker than ever, after an armed insurrection on his country, but all eyes will remain on Ankara as we

see how President Erdogan continues to see what he can extract. We know of course of that call very last minute, the 11th hour for more support for

the much stalled EU bid.

As Melissa said, that's probably all rhetoric, but it continue to see President Erdogan here who's going to try to play that delicate balancing

act, Eleni.

GIOKOS: And President Biden, President Erdogan currently meeting having these conversations. It has been interesting. The three main things we have

to remember and what we heard from Jens Stoltenberg is the plan for Ukraine to join NATO defense spending needs to be increased significantly.

And interestingly, they also have their eye on China and working together as well, to ensure that they show -- strength, unity. This has been the

main message from the NATO Summit. Melissa Bell, thank you so very much for your reporting. Salma Abdelaziz we'll speak to you soon as the summit


Well just ahead, a furious Volodymyr Zelenskyy has a message for NATO leaders and gathered in Lithuania. The Ukrainian president is expected to

speak this hour in central Vilnius, stay with us.


GIOKOS: Welcome back, I want to take you back to Vilnius on the sidelines of a NATO summit. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the Ukrainian President

speaking to a crowd right now, let's listen in.

VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT: It's a great honor to be here. Welcome you and thank every one of you. Here in Vilnius, we see the

progress of Europe. People here know what security is and how to achieve it. And they know that security is being together with Ukraine.


I'm grateful to you, Vilnius and all Lithuanian citizen communities for your support of Ukraine for a refuge given to Ukrainians who were saved

here in Ukraine, in Lithuania for fighting in Ukraine.

I thank you for your help to our heroes for your oldest and what important very brave decision to invite Ukraine to NATO. Ukrainian flags on

Lithuanian cities, it means we are allies already and Ukraine will protect our and your freedom.

And never, never and no one will be looking back at Moscow. And no one should look back at Moscow. I want to thank you and thank you -- you always

help us a lot. Thank you, the mayor of Vilnius and all of you who got together on this square in Vilnius.

Today, here in Vilnius, Ukrainian battle flag from Bakhmut, it's one of the most important fights for the freedom in Europe. And our children and our

grandchildren will remember this just by that. And this battle flag from Bakhmut knows means that the Lithuanians will not be fighting. The Russian

soldiers not in Vilnius not anywhere in your cities and towns in your country.

Lithuania will always be yours. This flag means that we will never happen the deportations from Baltic States to say a barrier and dividing up

Poland. And there won't be tanks in Prague and went to war against Finland. No more occupations in Europe, no more insulting the Hungarians. Ukrainian

flag has bested by bullets, but still alive and free, it means that every flag in Europe will be alive and free.


And in the ruins of Bakhmut, on the battle, on other battlefields in Ukraine, Russian occupying ambitions were shattered. And the Russian

ambitions will stay in ruins. Today I went to Vilnius with a belief in the decision in partners in strong NATO. Later that doesn't have any doubt or

lose time and not looking back on any aggressor.

And I would like that test summit will become a title assurance of the decisions which we deserve. Well, that's all every our citizens and our

warrior expect, every mother and child expect. And is it a big thing to dream about? Later we'll give Ukraine security. Ukraine will make NATO

stronger, glory to Ukraine and glory to Lithuania.

GIOKOS: Right. We just heard from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, alongside Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda. With their first ladies as

you can see the Lithuanian First Lady wearing blue holding yellow flowers in commemoration of the Ukrainian flag.

We're seeing this large crowd holding Ukrainian flags. President Zelenskyy says the Ukrainian flag is alive and free, and that Ukraine will make NATO

stronger. This has been one of the biggest issues at this NATO summit happening in Vilnius in Lithuania. Right now, I want to bring in CNN's

Natasha Bertrand, CNN's International Diplomatic Editor as well, Nic Robertson, who is in London for us.

It is quite a show of force; I have to say in terms of what we've seen from President Zelenskyy. He did say he doesn't want to go to NATO summit just

to have fun. Jen Stoltenberg has just laid out the plan for Ukraine to join NATO. But for Zelenskyy it isn't enough commitment.

I want you to take me through some of what you've heard today, in response to this large crowd as you can see on the sidelines of NATO.

NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yes, Eleni, so we did hear Jens Stoltenberg lay out what the summit believes is a path to Ukraine's

membership. But likely something that President Zelenskyy will not necessarily be satisfied with. Now Zelenskyy did say of course during his

remarks that we just heard that Ukraine will make NATO stronger.


Well, the alliance, they have not decided on when that will actually be. In terms of what Stoltenberg announced today, while the NATO allies, they did

release a communique outlining that they will create a NATO Ukraine Council. And they will also agree to invite Ukraine to NATO when conditions

allow and when all allies agree that it is the right time for Ukraine to join.

Now, in terms of when that is that is completely unclear. And that is something what that Zelenskyy had been wanting, a clear timetable, a clear

idea of when Ukraine might actually be able to join the alliance. They stopped short of that today saying only that when conditions are right, and

when the allies agree that is when Ukraine will be joining.

However, they did drop one key aspect of the Ukraine membership, prospective membership, which is the Membership Action Plan, which is

essentially a step that other allies have had to complete before they're allowed to join the alliance. Ukraine will not need to go through that


So it essentially removes one hurdle to Ukraine joining. But again, they can only join when they get that formal invitation and when those allies

are all unanimous that it is time for them to join. So that still could be some ways off. They removed one hurdle. But of course, many still remain


GIOKOS: Yes, many still remain. Nic, we heard from the NATO chief, and he's saying we've never had this strength of commitment from allies in terms of

the action plan for Ukraine. We know the hurdles. Natasha has just laid them out. But already we've seen significant moves here, Sweden.

Now the door open for Sweden being able to join NATO. Stoltenberg was talking about a much stronger alliance. There are so many interesting

things that are occurring right now. And you walk away with a sense, look, there's a plan. It seems that there's unification on this, this commitment,

but there's still a lot of things to do and some potential hurdles here.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, it's definitely that sense. And I thought the messaging on that platform where President

Zelenskyy was thanking was very clear, wasn't it? Ukraine, NATO#33, meaning Ukraine should be the 33rd member of NATO. There's nothing subtle about

that messaging, and nothing really particularly subtle in what President Zelenskyy has been saying.

For him it's desperately important. I think Zelenskyy's message is one that's always been way ahead of NATO's comfort zone, whether it's on tanks,

fighter aircraft surface to air missiles, air defense systems, even sort of bullets and anti-tank weapons at the beginning, which sort of flooded in at

the last minute when the war was sort of just almost underway.

And it's been that way since then. I think Zelenskyy seems ahead of the NATO curve again here. Yet he likes to drive the narrative. And he wants to

drive that narrative, not just to discussion about a path, discussion about an initiative, discussion about an invitation to join, he wants that

concrete, you're going to join.

This is precisely how, and this is what the timeline looks like one door closes the war. Another one opens NATO membership and this emotional,

emotional, sort of reach out to the crowd here to remind them. And this is where the strength of support and the level of understanding for Ukraine

and Zelenskyy is strongest in the Baltic States, who were Soviet satellites who did have to suffer Soviet aggression.

Who did understand what it was like to have an underground battle fought in the woods to try to hold off the Soviets have to succumb to their Crushing

Blows? And to be live in fear because they're small nations close to Russia, live in fear of what may come over that border.

And that was the emotional outreach of Zelenskyy's speech there. The Ukrainians will be at your side, will never let Russians come into, into

Vilnius. We will fight the war in Bakhmut. Look at this hold a bullet written flag from Bakhmut, the epicenter of our war is sort of what he's


That's a symbol that's testimony to how we'll fight for you the Lithuanians very, very emotional. And that's really characteristic of Zelenskyy's what

you could call in basketball terms, a full court press to try to get what he wants and really seeming from what we could hear there taking the crowd

with him.

They buy into this, but it's those other NATO nations that haven't lived so close and with that recent historic memory of Russia and the Soviet Union

that are harder to persuade. But this is Zelenskyy's method, just battle on from the front and make a strong message.

GIOKOS: And as you say, I mean, the Baltic States know what is at stake. And this is what makes it a vital conversation right now with all the

leaders and of course as they try and make more commitments to secure Ukraine's position in the alliance.


The question is the timeline, Nic Robertson as well as Natasha Bertrand, great to have you on. We're seeing live visuals will moments ago in fact of

President Zelenskyy next to the President of Lithuania, addressing a large crowd holding up Ukrainian flags, subtle messaging their #Ukraine NATO33.

All right, fantastic to have you with us, we're going to take a short break and I'll be right back after this, stay with CNN.


GIOKOS: Welcome back. You're watching "Connect the World"; now at least six people are dead in Japan south western region due to heavy rainfall. The

rain began at the start of the month. There have been rivers flooding and landslides since authorities say five people are missing and 19 are


Joining me now is CNN Meteorologist Derek Van Dam. Take us through the latest. These images are absolutely terrifying to look at, take us through

what we can expect next.

DEREK VAN DAM, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, it has been incredible here at the CNN weather center. We've been covering flooding not only in Japan, but

also India and into the northeastern sections of the United States. Remember, as our world warms that increases the capacity to hold more water

vapor in the atmosphere, so extreme rain events are becoming even more extreme.

And this is the product of our changing climate, right. We're seeing more landslides, more extreme rains in short periods of time. This is coming out

of the Kyushu Island into Southwestern sections of Japan. I mean, look at the torrent of mud that was brought down on this hillside, you can see this

is mountainous territory, so it doesn't take much for that slope to fail.

Ultimately, the water seeps into the ground and eventually gravity winds and takes whatever kind of debris on the side of the hill along with it

into the valley and the communities blow unfortunately. These are some of the rainfall totals we saw into Kyushu. We're talking over 400 millimeters

of rain just in a 24 hour period.

Again, these are in mountainous regions, so it doesn't take much to produce rainfall but it is being aided by what is called the Meyiu-Baiu front. This

is a nearly stationary frontal boundary that we see set up every year this time of year. It drifts northward during the summer months in the northern

hemisphere and it brings our heavy rainfall to eastern China, the Korean Peninsula and unfortunately into Japan.

And we expect more rain this time, just north of Kyushu, north of Kagoshima more so into the Kyoto region over the next three days. But just looking at

Kagoshima's rainfall history, this is climatologically speaking, May June, July, you can see that uptick in the rainfall right when that Meyiu-Baiu

front lifts northward.

Again that lifts north through much of Southeast Asia and brings the heavy rain with it. And sometimes it's fueled by the Bay of Bengal that's helped

produce our heavy rainfall across northern India as well. And that's where we've been experiencing some flooding. Impressive rainfall totals in a 24

hour period, so many to count. But this is just the general story that we've been covering here, the fingerprints of climate change written all

over it, Eleni?


GIOKOS: I tell you, over the past couple of weeks been doing so many climate stories, whether it was like heating temperatures last week, the

flooding this week. And I was thinking of you yesterday, because on the show, we spoke about snow in Johannesburg, we work together in South

Africa. You must have been shocked by that.

DAM: I saw that and I saw the social media posts or re-tweeted it. And I couldn't believe my eyes are rare thing to see in Johannesburg.

GIOKOS: It absolutely is. Yes, we've got to look out for the climate issue. It is affecting everyone, Derek Van Dam, always great to have you on, thank

you sir.

DAM: Yes, thank you.

GIOKOS: Well that's it for us. "One World" with Zain Asher is up next. You're watching CNN, thanks for joining us.