Keir Starmer is about to enter the world stage as PM – here’s what to expect

People clear away the rubble of the destroyed building of the children's hospital in Kyiv
People clear away the rubble of the destroyed building of the children’s hospital in Kyiv (Picture: SOPA Images/Shu)

When a married couple reaches their 75th anniversary, the traditional present is a diamond.

With the prospect of Nato sceptic Donald Trump returning to the White House as president, no one is heading to Tiffany yet to celebrate the anniversary of the organisation just yet.

Sir Keir Starmer has barely settled into his new office Number 10 before having to jet off to Washington tonight for the summit, which will mark 75 years of the alliance.

For Britain’s new prime minister, this will be his entrance to the world stage after the Labour Party booted Rishi Sunak and the Conservatives from power.

A Ukrainian firefighter works to extinguish a fire in a residential building
A Ukrainian firefighter works to extinguish a fire in a residential building following a missile attack in Kyiv on July 8, 2024 (Picture: AFP)

But Nato is in trouble. Instead of a celebration, leaders are faced with Russia’s war in Ukraine, the rise of the far right on both sides of the pond and the possibility of Trump’s reelection.

The summit is projected to be a test, both for the PM – who has much to achieve in his first 100 days – and US president Joe Biden, who is facing the presidential election in November.

When and where is the Nato summit this week?

Washington will host its first Nato summit in 25 years, starting from July 9 until 11.

The transatlantic alliance was created on April 4, 1949, and it has since expanded from 12 founding members to 32 member countries.

Britain's Prime Minister Keir Starmer
The new PM will fly to Washington tonight for the summit (Picture: Reuters)

Leaders already celebrated the 75th anniversary on April 4 at the headquarters in Brussels.

But it will also be marked at the summit in Washington, where its founding treaty was signed. 

Who will be in attendance alongside Keir Starmer?

Leaders from all 32 member nations are heading to the event, plus Pacific partners Australia, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea.

Ukrainian president Volodymy Zelensky will also attend as it is expected that allied leaders will pledge increasing support to his country.

A woman comforts a girl
A woman comforts a girl as they shelter in the basement following Russian missile strikes on the hospital (Picture: Reuters)

It comes hours after the Russian onslaught on the Ohmatdyt National Specialised Children’s Hospital in Kyiv, the heaviest on the Ukrainian capital in several months.

A total of 38 people were killed and almost 200 more wounded in bombardments on cities across the country.

Meanwhile, the summit is expected to be one of Biden’s last appearances at an international forum before Election Day and comes before next week’s Republican National Convention in Milwaukee.

He has sought to spotlight his commitment to the alliance while making the case to voters that Trump would turn his back on Nato if he were to return to the White House.

A woman carries a child near Ohmatdyt Children's Hospital
A woman carries a child near Ohmatdyt Children’s Hospital (Picture: Reuters)

Emmanuel Macron will also be rushing to Washington days after losing much of his political power in the French snap election. 

Viktor Orban is one of the leaders to watch at the summit. The Hungarian prime minister’s approach to ending the war in Ukraine has most recently involved a trip to Moscow for a chat with Vladimir Putin and then to Beijing for a meeting with chairman Xi Jinping.

These were both a surprise for his allies in Nato.

A critic of Western military aid to Ukraine and the EU leader with the warmest relations with Russia and China, Orban is in hot waters with other leaders who will be at the event.

Leaders from both Finland and Sweden will in attendance, after rushing to join the alliance in the aftermath of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

Hungarian PM Viktor Orban, left, shakes hands with Chinese president Xi Jinping
Hungarian PM Viktor Orban, left, shakes hands with Chinese president Xi Jinping before a meeting at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing (Picture: PA)

What is being discussed?

Away from the photo-ops – and behind closed doors – the summit is expected to be intense, as it comes at a key moment for the security alliance.

Ukraine’s stalling war effort and a potential second Trump presidency will be at the centre of discussions.

In response to yesterday’s assault on the hospital in Kyiv, president Zelensky said Ukraine would retaliate and called on his Western allies to give a firm response.

It is expected that Nato will announce ‘increased support’ to Ukraine – but what that may entail remains a mystery.

There is speculation that the alliance could lift all restrictions on Zelensky’s forces to attack Russian territory with Western-supplied weapons.

The president said during a visit to Poland that he hopes the summit will provide more air defence systems for Ukraine.

Nato is also expected to announce details of Ukraine’s pathway to a membership into the alliance, which is built around the foundational agreement that an attack on one is an attack on all members.

The alliance has maintained it will not bring Ukraine into the fold until after end of the war with Russia.

White House national security spokesperson John Kirby said leaders will discuss a coordination center in Germany to help train, equip and coordinate logistics for Ukraine forces for its expected eventual accession.

So, it is no surprise that Russia will be following the discussions in Washington closely over the next 72 hours.

Armoured vehicles captured by Russian troops in Ukraine
Armoured vehicles captured by Russian troops in Ukraine (Picture: EPA)

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters Russia considered Nato to be fully involved in the conflict in Ukraine.

Away from Putin’s war, South Korean president Yoon Suk Yeol has said he would stress to the alliance the increasing threat North Korea’s ‘military friendship’ with Russia poses.

He said: ‘Military co-operation between Russia and North Korea poses a distinct threat and grave challenge to the peace and security on the Korean peninsula and in Europe.’

Whatever relationship there was between South Korea and Russia has soured in the last two years amid Putin’s ballistic missiles and artillery deal with Kim Jong-un.

Both Russia and North Korea deny such deals.

Russia has called South Korea ‘the most friendly among unfriendly countries’, with Putin saying it would be making ‘a big mistake’ if it decided to supply arms to Ukraine.

South Korea protested when Putin visited Pyongyang in June and signed a treaty that covers mutual defence.

‘North Korea is clearly a menace to the international society,’ Yoon said in his comments.

‘I hope that Russia will sensibly decide which side – the South or the North – is more important and necessary for its own interests.’

There has also been an increase on cyber threats directed against Nato and member states, so this may also be a key discussion.


Related Posts

This will close in 0 seconds