The leaders of NATO, the G7 and the European Union (EU) staged and sealed this Thursday in three successive summits in Brussels their closing of ranks in support of Ukraine and they multiplied their warnings and pressure on Russia to stop its war against the former Soviet republic, which began a month ago.
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Three appointments with multiple actors but with two clear protagonists, the US president, Joe Biden, and his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodimir Zelenski, who participated in all of them by videoconference.
The 30 allies, with the American Joe Biden at the helm, gave their approval to the decisions that had been made in recent weeks. Biden said that “the idea of the unity of Europe as a whole, not just NATO, the G7 and this organization, is really the most important thing we can do to stop this man,” referring to Vladimir Putin.
“There are fewer democracies in the world today than there were ten years ago, so from the beginning my goal is that we build complete and total unity among the world’s leading democracies on this,” he added.
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NATO will double its battalions in the east to reinforce its eastern flank. Those already present in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland will be joined by others in Slovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania. In NATO terminology, a battalion is a unit of around 1,000 soldiers commanded by a lieutenant colonel and divided into several companies. They receive air support from nearby bases.
The mobilization of recent weeks means that The United States already has 100,000 soldiers in Europe when the normal was 60,000 in recent years. But it is still far from the figures of the Cold War, when it had 430,000 permanently stationed in European bases. The secretary general of NATO, the Norwegian Jens Stoltenberg, gave him more dramatic words: “We are the most powerful military union in the world. As long as we’re together, we’re safe.”
of the unit
of Europe as a whole, not just NATO and the G7, it really is the most important thing we can do to stop this man (Putin)
The summit also served for the 30 allies, each according to their availability of material and their political commitment, to commit to continue arming Ukraine, although arms shipments are made bilaterally, NATO does not organize them and only the Commission Union coordinates Ukrainian requests with offers from its member states
This Thursday it was about the possibility that the United States will send missiles to Ukraine that it can use to attack the Russian ships that dominate the Black Sea coast right now.
In fact, the Ukrainian president, Volodomir Zelenski, intervened this Thursday via telematics at the G7 and Alliance summits and called for more weapons support for its armed forces.
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Zelensky demanded that NATO “save” Ukraine with “unrestricted military aid” that allows him to go from resistance to the offensive against the Russian troops who invaded his country exactly one month ago.
Northwestern allies want Russian President Vladimir Putin to make the war as expensive as possible. If the European Union focuses on economic sanctions, NATO does so from the military side. The Atlantic Alliance understands – and it promised to do so this Thursday – that continuing to arm Ukraine allows President Vladimir Zelensky’s forces to resist Russian troops. Every day that the war is not won, Russia loses it, is the idea of European diplomats.
The Alliance supports Ukraine in its right to self-defense, but it is not part of the conflict and does not want it to become a war between Russia and NATO.
The summit also served to mark a red line, an idea that in Syria proved useless because its violation was not punished. NATO now tells Putin that the use of chemical or biological weapons – Ukraine claims that Russian troops have already used white phosphorous – “would greatly change the nature” of war. The allies agreed to send protective material to kyiv against chemical, biological and nuclear weapons.
But the Alliance will not enter the war, it will not send troops. Stoltenberg explained it this Thursday: “The Alliance supports Ukraine in its right to self-defense, but it is not part of the conflict and does not want it to become a war between Russia and NATO.”
Zelensky has called for this no-fly zone on several occasions, an initiative that would bring the Atlantic Alliance to the brink of war because it would force NATO fighters to pursue and shoot down Russian fighters and even bomb anti-aircraft platforms on Russian territory.
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Outside the spotlight and official statements, the summit also served to confirm that NATO is seeking to close what it considers to be its weak points against Russia. Movements to protect those points began the same day as the Russian attack on Ukraine. Hours later, NATO ordered the German Navy to send five ships to Latvia. The headquarters of the Atlantic Alliance sees in the Baltics one of its weaknesses.
The other major weak point is the so-called “Suwalki gap”, the 65-kilometre stretch that separates Belarus (in practice controlled by Moscow) from the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad, wedged between Lithuania and Poland. If Russia decided to attack that corridor, the Baltics would be isolated from the rest of the European Union and NATO by land. In Kaliningrad the Russian Army has stationed Iskander missiles. They have a maximum range of 500 kilometers and can carry nuclear warheads.
In reaction to this summit, Russia accused NATO of being interested in continuing military actions in Ukraine.. “The decision announced at the summit to continue offering political and practical support to kyiv shows the interest of the Atlantic Alliance in continuing military actions,” said Maria Zajárova, a Russian foreign spokeswoman.
In addition to this, Biden also urged G20 members from Belgium to exclude Russia from this group, in a move that seeks to further isolate Moscow from the different multilateral scenarios, and announced the reception of 100,000 Ukrainian refugees.
As for sanctions, the G7 and the EU agreed to block transactions involving the gold reserves of the Russian Central Bank, to prevent Moscow from circumventing Western sanctions.
Parallel to these summits, In New York, the UN General Assembly called for the “immediate cessation” for the second time on Thursday. of Russian hostilities in Ukraine and an end to attacks on civilians. The non-binding resolution was adopted by 140 votes in favour, showing Moscow’s isolation.
On the other hand, in the field of conflict, important military movements seemed to be on hold yesterday, attributed by the US Institute for the Study of War (ISW) to the Russian need to reinforce its troops and reorganize its operations.
In the east, Russian forces are present in the vicinity of the city of Kharkov, but have not managed to encircle the city. The bombardments against that town yesterday killed at least six civilians and injured more than a dozen, according to the Ukrainian authorities.
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