The Associated Press
MADRID (AP) — The Latest on the NATO summit in Madrid:
NATO leaders say bolstering the alliance’s forces in Eastern Europe as a bulwark against Russia is a key priority for the Madrid summit.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said as he arrived for talks Wednesday that NATO needed to learn “the lessons of the last few months and the need for NATO to revise its posture on its eastern flank.”
Polish President Andrzej Duda said NATO’s commitment to greatly increase its rapid reaction force for members nearest to Russia will make Europe “safer.”
He said: “Russia is a threat for Europe and not only for Europe, but for all of NATO.”
NATO has said it will boost its rapid response force from 40,000 to 300,000 troops for its eastern flank, which includes Poland’s borders with Ukraine and Belarus, a Russian ally.
The summit’s opening work session on Wednesday will focus on how NATO can give more support to Ukraine.
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German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said NATO members and others will continue to support Ukraine’s ability to defend itself against Russia “for as long as necessary.”
Speaking Wednesday at the start of the NATO summit in Madrid, Scholz said the military alliance “and many, many other nations” agreed that Russia had breached Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty when it attacked on Feb. 24.
“That’s why it’s right that the countries gathering here, and many others, are contributing with financial means, humanitarian aid, but also by providing weapons that Ukraine urgently needs” to defend itself, Scholz said.
“We will continue to do this for as long and as intensively as necessary, so Ukraine can defend itself,” he added.
Some 10,000 police are locking down Spain’s capital for the NATO summit.
The gathering of 40 world leaders, including U.S. President Joe Biden, is taking place behind roadblocks formed by police vans and armored cars.
They are ringing Madrid’s vast IFEMA conference center on the edge of the city, where the talks open Wednesday.
Spain’s National Police have deployed surveillance drones, while the flying of civilian drones is prohibited during the event.
Local authorities have recommended that Madrid residents work from home if possible and avoid further complicating the traffic problems caused by the security apparatus.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says the military alliance faces its “biggest challenge” since World War II amid the war in Ukraine.
Stoltenberg said at the start of the NATO summit in Madrid on Wednesday that the allies are meeting “in the midst of the most serious security crisis we have faced.”
“This will be a historic and transformative summit,” he told reporters.
Stoltenberg said the alliance is going to agree on deterrence to be able to deploy more combat formations and get more pre-positioned equipment in Eastern Europe by next year.
Ukrainian President Volodymir Zelenskyy is expected to address the 30 leaders via video link Wednesday, as Russia’s invasion stretches into its fifth month.
The gathering has already seen a breakthrough agreement between Turkey and Finland and Sweden for the Nordic countries to begin their accession process.
The asked to join the alliance after witnessing Russia’s brutal attack on its neighbor Ukraine, but Turkey had some misgivings that were overcome Tuesday.
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