VILNIUS — The NATO summit kicked off in Vilnius with a show of solidarity for Ukraine, as President Joe Biden’s motorcade arrived at the summit site amidst a sea of blue and yellow flags adorning the city.

Ukrainian flags were raised on street poles, city buses, and buildings, while residents were urged to join in by displaying blue and yellow flags on their windows and balconies. The city’s tallest building, the Vilnius TV Tower, also joined in by illuminating its facade with the colors of NATO, Lithuania, and Ukraine flags after dark.

Notably absent from the summit is First Lady Jill Biden, who chose not to attend. However, she engaged in a phone call last Friday with the spouse of the President of Lithuania, Diana Nausediene. During their conversation, the First Ladies discussed topics such as the treatment and rehabilitation of wounded Ukrainian servicemen and humanitarian aid to Ukraine, according to the Office of the President of Lithuania.

Scheduled for 1:50 pm, the summit’s family photo promises to capture the collective spirit of the event.

Earlier today, President Nauseda presented President Biden with the Order of Vytautas the Great, adorned with a golden collar. This honor holds significant meaning, as it is the highest award that a Lithuanian President can bestow, and President Biden is the first US President to receive it. The Order of Vytautas the Great was established in 1930 to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the death of the Lithuanian Grand Duke Vytautas the Great. It is granted to both Lithuanian and foreign heads of state, as well as their citizens, in recognition of distinguished services to the State of Lithuania.

The White House expressed, “This award recognizes President Biden’s special merits in developing bilateral relations between the Republic of Lithuania and the United States of America, as well as his contributions to political, cultural, economic, and social cooperation between the two countries.”

The United States established diplomatic relations with Lithuania in 1922. Since Lithuania regained its independence in 1990, the two countries have developed a close partnership. The United States warmly welcomed Lithuania’s accession to NATO and the European Union in 2004.

The office of the President of the Republic of Lithuania revealed that President Gitanas Nauseda engaged in discussions with President Biden regarding support for Ukraine, measures to reinforce NATO’s eastern flank, and the response to Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine, backed by Belarus. Furthermore, President Nauseda mentioned Lithuania’s efforts to secure military equipment from the United States.

President Nauseda highlighted the warm reception given to President Biden by the Lithuanian people, acknowledging that some Vilnius residents had temporarily left the city due to heightened security measures.

“The United States is here today to reaffirm our commitment to NATO, but also to Vilnius,” stated President Biden during the meeting with Nauseda. He pledged to stand by Lithuania and assured that all necessary assistance would be provided.

Expressing his support for Ukraine, President Biden emphasized, “We’re also going to discuss our support for Ukraine.”

He reiterated his strong backing for the transatlantic alliance. “As you’ve probably heard, I’m a strong supporter of the transatlantic alliance,” said Biden. Leaning towards President Nauseda, he added, “As I’ve said before, we take, NATO takes, all of us take, Article 5 literally.” President Biden also expressed confidence in Sweden joining NATO, saying, “I’m confident we can get that done.” Moreover, he reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to supporting the people of Ukraine.

President Joe Biden revealed to Lithuania’s President Gitanas Nauseda that his last visit to Lithuania took place in 2014, shortly after Russia’s initial invasion of Ukraine. Biden emphasized the swift response to Russia’s second invasion, stating, “It didn’t take us long to get thousands of troops here when Russia invaded for the second time.”

President Nauseda, a vocal advocate for Ukraine’s NATO membership, emphasized the urgency of taking decisive action in the face of the current security situation in Europe.

“Now is the right time for strategic decisions. Inviting Ukraine to join NATO would be our strategic responsibility and would firmly link Ukraine to the Euro-Atlantic security architecture. Ukraine deserves to be invited,” he shared his views after a meeting with a group of US Senators on Monday.

Biden will hold a meeting with President of Turkey later today following Erdogan’s agreement to forward Sweden’s accession protocol to the Grand National Assembly to ensure ratification.

Ksenija Pavlovic is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of the Pavlovic Today, The Chief White House Correspondent. Pavlovic was a Teaching Fellow and Doctoral Fellow in the Political Science department at...

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