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International News: NATO vows to guard ‘every inch of territory’ as Russia fumes (7/1/22)

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg received a letter of commitment to innovation at a NATO summit in Madrid on Thursday.

Paul White: The Associated Press

MADRID – A volatile world could become more dangerous if NATO is not strong and united, the alliance chief said at the end of a summit on Thursday where Western leaders identified Russia as a “direct threat” to their nation’s security.

During their three-day meeting in Madrid, NATO members faced a geopolitical landscape marked by large-scale power struggles and countless threats, from cyber attacks to climate change. Leaders have cast their eyes around the world after accusing China of creating a “serious challenge” to global stability. But Russia’s aggression in Ukraine dominated the summit.

“We live in a more dangerous world and we live in a more unpredictable world and we live in a world where we have a heated war going on in Europe,” said NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. “At the same time, we also know that it could get worse.”

That’s why the Western military alliance has a “core responsibility” to prevent the war in Ukraine from spreading to other countries, as well as to make it clear to Moscow that it will “protect every inch of NATO territory,” Stoltenberg said.

That area is growing. At the summit, NATO leaders formally invited Finland and Sweden to join the alliance after an agreement was reached to end Turkey’s opposition. However, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he could still block membership in the Nordic countries if the Nordic pair did not keep their promises.

If all 30 member states agree to join, it will give NATO a new 800-mile border with Russia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned that if Sweden or Finland agrees to host NATO troops and military infrastructure, he will respond. He said Russia “must create the same threat to the region from which it has been threatening us.”

Estonian Prime Minister Kaza Kallas said Putin’s threat was “nothing new.”

“Of course, we should expect some sort of surprise from Putin, but I suspect he is directly attacking Sweden or Finland,” Calas said.

NATO leaders on Thursday focused on the Sahel region of Africa and the Middle East for a final summit in the south, where political instability – increased by climate change and food insecurity due to the war in Ukraine – is driving large numbers of migrants to Europe.

The United States and other Western nations are also seeking to strike a balance between the growing influence of China and Russia in the developing world. “Moscow and Beijing are using economic advantage, coercion and hybrid approaches to advance their interests in the region,” Stoltenberg said.

The Beijing government has called the alliance a “remnant of the Cold War” and accused it of “malicious attacks and defamation” of China by including it on NATO’s list of global challenges.

But Stoltenberg said it was Russia’s invasion of Ukraine that brought “the biggest change in our collective defense since the end of the Cold War.” In response, NATO has poured invisible quantities of troops and weapons into Eastern Europe for decades.

NATO leaders agreed at the Madrid summit to dramatically increase military power to the east of the alliance, where the Baltic states from Romania are concerned about Russia’s future plans.

NATO has announced plans to increase the size of the alliance’s rapid response force nearly eightfold by next year, from 40,000 to 300,000 troops – although details of specific troop commitments remain unclear.

Most troops will be based in their own countries but will be dedicated to formerly specific countries, where the coalition plans to build stockpiles of equipment and ammunition.

Member states have provided billions of dollars in military and civilian assistance to Ukraine to strengthen its resistance. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who addressed the summit via video link, wanted more.

He called on NATO to send modern artillery systems and other weapons – or “face a protracted war between Russia and you.”

“The question is, who is next? Moldova? Or the Baltics? Or Poland? The answer is: all of them,” he said.

U.S. President Joe Biden, whose country supplies the lion’s share of NATO firepower, has announced an increase in U.S. military presence in Europe, including a permanent U.S. base in Poland, two more naval destroyers in Spain, and two more F35 squadrons in the United Kingdom.

“Before the war started, I told Putin that if he invaded Ukraine, NATO would not only be stronger, but more united,” Biden told reporters. “And we will see the world’s democracies rise up and oppose its aggression and uphold the rule of law. That is exactly what we are seeing today.”

Nevertheless, strains have emerged among NATO allies as prices for energy and other essential commodities have skyrocketed, in part due to the war and tougher Western sanctions on Russia. There is also tension over how the war will end and what concessions Ukraine should make.

Money is a sensitive issue – only nine of NATO’s 30 members currently meet the target of spending 2% of GDP on defense.

Britain, one of nine, on Thursday announced another বিল 1 billion ($ 1.21 billion) in military aid to Ukraine. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said the UK will raise military spending to 2.5 per cent of GDP by the end of this decade. Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez says Spain, the alliance’s least-spending country, aims to achieve a 2% target by 2029.

The summit also created a new strategic concept, a decade-long set of NATO priorities and goals.

The latest such document, in 2010, called Russia a “strategic partner.” Now, NATO has accused Russia of using “coercion, insurgency, aggression and annexation” to expand its reach.

The 2010 document makes no mention of China, but the new one identifies Beijing’s growing economic and military reach as a challenge for NATO members.

NATO says China is “trying to disrupt the rule-based international system, including the space, cyber and maritime domains” and warns of its close ties with Moscow.

China has retaliated by saying that NATO is “creating problems around the world.”

“As NATO poses a ‘systematic challenge’ to China, we need to pay close attention and respond in a coordinated manner. When it comes to actions that undermine China’s interests, we will respond strongly,” said a statement from the Beijing mission. Done. Said the European Union.

Contributed by Aritz Parra, author of the Associated Press in Madrid.

Follow the AP coverage of the war at

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