The Associated Press
MADRID (AP) — The Latest on the final day of the NATO summit in Madrid:
Chancellor Olaf Scholz says Germany will launch the process of ratifying the planned NATO membership of Sweden and Finland this week and will conclude it “very quickly.”
The two Nordic nations were formally invited on Wednesday to join the alliance. Scholz said Thursday that “we stand ready to assure both countries of support already now as long as the accession process isn’t formally concluded.”
Asked whether that’s a political statement or if there are military plans for such support, Scholz replied that it’s simply part of the solidarity the countries owe each other.
Scholz added that Russian President Vladimir Putin appeared “more or less unfazed” by NATO’s decision to admit the two countries, “so I think this is something where, despite the tricky situation, we can assume that it won’t contribute to intensifying the tensions between NATO and Russia.”
He conceded that that outlook comes with “uncertainty.”
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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says the withdrawal of Russian troops from Snake Island in the Black Sea is a sign that Ukraine will prevail in the war.
Johnson said the pullout from the island where occupying Russian troops have faced relentless Ukrainian attacks shows that “again Russia has had to cede ground.” He said that “in the end it will prove impossible for Putin to hold down a country that will not accept” occupation.
Johnson spoke at the end of a NATO summit in Madrid dominated by the consequences of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
He said Russia must be driven off from all the territory it has occupied since it invaded in February and that at the moment “there doesn’t seem to be anything to talk about” regarding a cease-fire.
Johnson welcomed a commitment by many NATO members to increase defense spending and said the U.K. would raise its spending target from 2% of GDP to 2.5% by the end of the decade.
NATO’s leader has closed a summit of the Western military alliance with a message to Moscow that the allies are prepared to “protect every inch of NATO territory” and fully back Ukraine in its battle against Russian forces.
Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Thursday that NATO has “made sure that there is no misunderstanding in the minds of any adversary, that if they do anything like what Russia has done to Georgia in 2008 or Ukraine now, that will trigger the full response of the whole alliance.”
Stoltenberg said the three-day summit in Madrid featured several “transformative” decisions.
Besides pledging more aid by NATO members for Kyiv, the allies agreed to boost their rapid response forces in Eastern Europe from 40,000 to 300,000, invited Sweden and Finland to join as new members, and approved a new list of top security priorities for the next decade, among other decisions.
“We face the most serious security situation in decades, but we are rising to the challenge with unity and resolve,” Stoltenberg said.
Sweden plans to send additional military support to Ukraine, including anti-tank weapons, support weapons and demining equipment that it says Kyiv had requested.
The hardware is worth approximately 500 million kronor ($49 million).
“It is important that the support to Ukraine from the democratic countries in Europe is continuous and long-term,” Defense Minister Peter Hultqvist said, according to the Swedish news agency TT.
He didn’t say when and how the equipment would be delivered but said, “It is in everyone’s interest that it is delivered as quickly as possible.”
Sweden was invited at a NATO summit this week to join the Western military alliance.
Italian Premier Mario Draghi is skipping the last day of the NATO summit in Madrid amid simmering tensions in his coalition government.
Draghi’s office said the premier will attend a Cabinet meeting in the Italian capital on Thursday. Measures to bring relief for high consumer energy bills and government spending top the Cabinet’s agenda.
Draghi’s abrupt departure came amid tension in his wide-ranging unity coalition, assembled during the COVID-19 pandemic.
His predecessor, populist 5-Star Movement leader Giuseppe Conte, has been seething over issues including Draghi’s staunch support for more military aid for Ukraine.
The 5-Stars are themselves in turmoil after Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio broke with the Movement last week, forming his own pro-Draghi political group, with an eye to national elections next year.
Italian Defense Minister Lorenzo Guerini is standing in for Draghi in Madrid.
Britain is sending 1 billion pounds’ ($1.21 billion) worth of military support to Ukraine, bringing its total military and economic support since the start of the war to 3.8 billion pounds.
The government said the new money is for equipment including air defense systems, unmanned aerial vehicles and electronic warfare equipment.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged allies at a NATO summit in Madrid on Thursday to “dig deep” in support of Ukraine.
Britain is the second-largest contributor of military support to Ukraine, after the United States. It is also one of only nine of the 30 NATO members meeting the alliance’s target of spending 2% of GDP on defense.
NATO leaders are arriving at a conference center in Madrid for the third and final day of their annual summit.
The 30-member alliance is due to wrap up its talks with a working session on security concerns for its southern flank, namely in unstable areas of North Africa and the Middle East.
On Wednesday, NATO nations pledged their continued support for Ukraine in its efforts to resist Russia’s invasion. It also issued an updated Strategic Concept, the document which lays out its top security concerns for the coming decade, where it named Russia as its top threat and added China for the first time.
NATO has also announced that it will boost its rapid response forces for Eastern Europe, increasing them from 40,000 to 300,000 troops ready to react to any attack by Russia against NATO territory.
The alliance has also cleared the path for Sweden and Finland to become new members after overcoming Turkey’s misgivings.
BRUSSELS — China has reacted to NATO naming it as a security challenge by calling the Western military alliance a “Cold War remnant” that is “smearing” Beijing’s international reputation.
On Wednesday, NATO issued its updated Strategic Concept, the document that lays out its top security threats for the coming decade. While Russia was named its top threat, NATO included China for the first time.
It said that China “strives to subvert the rules-based international order, including in the space, cyber and maritime domains” and warned of its close ties with Moscow.
A statement released by China’s Mission to the European Union on Thursday responded: “Since NATO positions China as a ‘systemic challenge,’ we have to pay close attention and respond in a coordinated way. When it comes to acts that undermine China’s interests, we will make firm and strong responses.”
China insisted that it promotes peace through its collaboration with the United Nations and its foreign development projects.
It called the 30-nation alliance a source of instability.
“NATO claims itself to be a defensive organization that upholds the rules-based international order, but it has bypassed the U.N. Security Council and waged wars against sovereign states, creating huge casualties and leaving tens of millions displaced,” it said.
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