Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy shakes hands with US President Joe Biden as NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and other leaders look on, Vilnius, Lithuania, July 12, 2023 (Yves Herman/Reuters)

I joined Australia’s ABC on Wednesday, cutting through misleading headlines to analyze success for Ukraine at the NATO Summit in Lithuania.

Speaking with Beverley O’Connor, I also update on Vladimir Putin’s “balancing act” with Yevgeny Prigozhin, three weeks after the rebellion of his Wagner Group mercenaries and their advance on Moscow.

Evaluating the NATO summit, I explain how initial tension — still the focus of much media coverage — was overtaken by NATO’s path for Ukrainian accession, and by commitments of military and financial assistance to Ukraine in the midst of its counter-offensive against Russia’s invasion.

We’re back on track not for “security guarantees” — that language is too binding — but the support for Ukraine security to defeat this invasion after 17 months.

I then explain the curiosity of Vladimir Putin sitting down with Prigozhin and his Wagner Group commanders on June 29, only five days after the rebellion.

Putin doesn’t want Prigozhin to return to a position of influence.

But all those Wagner Group mercenaries, you want them to be part of your military — especially because Wagner still controls raw materials and mineral resources in parts of Africa.

You execute Prigozhin or even a show trial, and the Wagner fighters might not cooperate with you.