Tag Archives: NATO

EU Defence ministers convene in Brussels

Brussels 17.05.2022 The EU Defence Ministers convene in Brussels to discuss the implementation of the Strategic Compass with a focus on the future of CSDP missions and operations. The Strategic Compass provides a shared assessment of the strategic environment in which the EU is operating and of the threats and challenges the Union faces. The roadmap makes concrete and actionable proposals, with a very precise timetable for implementation, in order to improve the EU’s ability to act decisively in crises and to defend its security and its citizens. The Compass covers all the aspects of the security and defence policy and is structured around four pillars: act, invest, partner and secure.

The other focus of attention is Russian aggression against Ukraine.A Ukrainian military base about 15 kilometers (9 miles) from the border with Poland was targeted in a Russian missile attack early Tuesday morning, according to Maksym Kozytsky, head of the Lviv regional military administration. He gave no further details in a late-night Telegram post.

Informal lunch with the NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg and the Minister of Defence of Ukraine, Oleksii Reznikov (via videoconference).

The Russian President Vladimir Putin said the entry of Sweden and Finland into the US-led alliance will not create a threat to Russia, but military expansion into the territory will “certainly cause our response.” The Swedish government said on its website that it has decided to apply for NATO membership, following a similar declaration from Finland on Sunday.

EU: Sweden moves towards NATO

Brussels 16.05.2022 “Let me stress my strong support to Sweden and Finland. Some minutes ago, I had a conversation with the Swedish Minister [for Foreign Affairs, Ann Linde], who was kind enough to call me, to inform that the process has started, that they are going to inform the King, and that there is strong support for this decision inside the Swedish society and the Swedish political spectrum” the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell said at the doorstep of the EU Foreign Affairs Council, Brussels.

“So, I think the European Union Member States will support this decision, and I hope we could override the opposition of some members of NATO,” he added.

Finland joins NATO without delay

Brussels 12.04.2022 Finland announced it would apply to join NATO “without delay”, with Sweden expected to follow suit, suggesting Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will bring about the very expansion of the Western military alliance that Vladimir Putin attempted to prevent.

The decision by the two Nordic countries to abandon the neutrality they maintained throughout the Cold War would be a giant shift in European security structure in decades. Finland’s announcement provoked indignation from the Kremlin, which called it a direct threat to Russia and promised an unspecified relevant response.

The announcement by President Sauli Niinisto and Prime Minister Sanna Marin means that Finland is all but certain to join the Western military alliance, though a few steps remain before the application process can begin. Neighbouring Sweden is expected to decide on application for NATO membership in coming days.

“NATO membership would strengthen Finland’s security. As a member of NATO, Finland would strengthen the entire defence alliance,” Niinisto and Marin said in a joint statement.

“Finland must apply for NATO membership without delay,” they said. “We hope that the national steps still needed to make this decision will be taken rapidly within the next few days.”

Stoltenberg visits Europarliament

Brussels 29.04.2022 NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg visited the European Parliament in Brussels to meet President Roberta Metsola and the conference of presidents of the seven political groups in the Parliament. This is the first time that a NATO Secretary General has met with the group of European Parliament party leaders on Thursday, April 28.

The Secretary General praised the European Parliament for its strong support to Ukraine, and stressed that the NATO-EU partnership is vital at this critical moment for our shared security. He mentioned the unprecedented level of cooperation between the two organisations on a wide range of issues, including in the Western Balkans, on cyber, resilience and maritime security.

In a joint press point with President Metsola, the Secretary General emphasised that NATO and the EU “stand together in solidarity with Ukraine”. He welcomed the EU’s strong economic sanctions on Russia. He stated that to date, NATO Allies have pledged and provided at least US $8 billion in military support to Ukraine, and continue to step up.

Asked by reporters how quickly the process of NATO accession could go if Finland and Sweden decide to apply, the Secretary General said: “It is of course for Finland and Sweden to decide whether they would like to apply for membership in NATO or not. But if they decide to apply, Finland and Sweden will be welcomed with open arms to NATO. Finland and Sweden are our closest partners, they are strong, mature democracies, EU members, and we have worked with Finland and Sweden for many, many years. We know that their armed forces meet NATO standards, are interoperable with NATO forces, we train together, we exercise together, and we have also worked with Finland and Sweden in many different missions and operations. So if they apply, they will be welcomed, and I also expect the process to be quick. And that they can then join NATO after the formal process has been finalised.”

Draghi: avenues for peace dialogue

Brussels 19.04.2022 “So far, Putin’s goal has not been the search for peace, but the attempt to annihilate the Ukrainian resistance, occupy the country and entrust it to a friendly government. We will stay close to our Ukrainian friends: the reopening of our Embassy in Kiev is good news. Yesterday I heard from our ambassador Zazo to congratulate him directly” said Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi (pictured), interviewed on Sunday, April 18, by Corriere della Sera.

“The line of all allies – added Draghi – remains that of avoiding a direct involvement of Europe in the war. One of the cornerstones of this conflict is the assertion by all NATO leaders, started by the U.S. President Biden, that there will be no direct involvement of the Alliance. I understand the reasons that push Sweden and Finland to think about joining NATO ”.

“All the crucial decisions, were taken with a very wide parliamentary consensus. Since the first debate on the war, some parliaments have tried to reproach antiquities and I have been asked to say what I thought of it. I replied: this is not the time to reproach oneself with the sympathies and affairs of the past. It’s time to all be together. And I keep repeating it. Among other things, this is a debate of especially some politicians. It does not seem to me that among the majority of citizens there is time to make trials in the past ” Draghi continued.

The Prime minister also spoke about the phone calls with Putin. “I am beginning to think that those who say are right: it is useless for you to talk to them, time is wasted. I have always defended Macron and I continue to believe that as the incumbent President of the EU it is right to try every possible avenue of dialogue. But I have the impression that the horror of war with its carnage, with what it did to children and women, is completely independent of the words and phone calls that are made “.

Finland considers joining NATO in weeks

Brussels 13.04.2022 Finland will take a decision about whether to apply to join NATO in the next few weeks, Prime Minister Sanna Marin (pictured) said on Wednesday, April 13, underlining a shift in security perspectives since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“We have to be prepared for all kinds of actions from Russia,” Marin told journalists during a news conference in Stockholm with her Swedish counterpart.

The head of government said the option to join NATO had to be carefully analysed but that everything had changed when Russian forces invaded Ukraine in late February.

“The difference between being a partner and being a member is very clear and will remain so. There is no other way to have security guarantees than under NATO’s deterrence and common defence as guaranteed by NATO’s Article 5,” Marin added.

Finland and fellow Nordic state and neighbour Sweden are close partners with NATO but have shied away from joining the 30-member alliance, founded in 1949 to counter the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

52 percent of Finnish Swedes say yes to NATO membership, shows a recent survey Swedish Yle and the think tank Magma commissioned. This is a smaller proportion than in Finland as a whole.

Today, Wednesday, the Government is expected to approve and present the defense policy report. It will be discussed in the Riksdag next week.

At the same time, a new survey shows that Swedes in Finland express greater uncertainty regarding NATO membership than the general population does. Survey has been commissioned by Svenska Yle together with the think tank Magma.

The survey shows that Finnish Swedes’ NATO support is lower in Finland overall. 52 percent of Finnish Swedes say yes to NATO membership, compared with over 60 percent in Yle’s latest NATO survey for the entire
population.

“I won’t give any kind of timetable when we will make our decisions, but I think it will happen quite fast – within weeks not within months,” said Marin, whose country shares a 1,300-km (810-mile)-long border with Russia to the east.

She said it was important to reach consensus in Finland, which fought Soviet invaders during World War Two and has been militarily non-aligned since then, and that political parties would have internal talks and in parliament in coming weeks.

Finland and Sweden way to NATO

Brussels 11.04.2022 Sweden and Finland may join NATO as early as this summer, the Times newspaper reported citing its sources. (Image: Sandra Marin Prime minister of Finland).

According to the news outlet, it is expected that Finland will apply for its membership in June and Sweden will follow.

The governments of Sweden and Finland are co-operating on reaching consensus on the matter domestically, however, the final decision will be made by each country independently.

Earlier, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that the possible NATO membership of Sweden and Finland became one of the most debated subjects during the April 6-7 meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Brussels.

NATO pledge for heavy weapons to Ukraine

Brussels 07.04.2022 The NATO member states have agreed to supply new types of advanced weaponry to Ukraine, alliance representatives have said, as Kyiv prepares for a next offensive by Russia in the Donbass region.

The pledge has been announced after a plea from Ukraine Foreign minister to move faster with weapons supplies. Six weeks since Russia invasion of Ukraine, some of the troops have largely withdrawn from territory north of Kyiv after failing to seize the capital, but are regrouping and rearming ahead of an attempt to advance in the Eastern region near Donbass.

These events influenced demands from Kyiv for western countries to supply more heavy weapons, armour and more advanced systems. Ukraine foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba said he would use the Alliance meeting in Brussels to ask for aircraft, missiles, armoured vehicles and heavy air defence systems, additionally to the other types of equipment.

UK foreign secretary Liz Truss said to press that member states had agreed to send more weapons.

“There was support for countries to supply new and heavier equipment to Ukraine, so that they can respond to these new threats from Russia,” the top diplomat explained. “And we agreed to help Ukrainian forces move from their Soviet-era equipment to NATO standard equipment, on a bilateral basis.”

Antony Blinken, US secretary of state, said Washington was looking at sending “new systems” to Ukraine.

“We are not going to let anything stand in the way of getting Ukrainians what they need,” he said. “We are looking across the board right now, not only at what we have provided . . . [but] whether there are additional systems that would make a difference.”

Previously the allies have supplied Ukraine with anti-tank missiles, drones and other defensive weaponry before and during the war. However, they have declined to supply other classes of weapons or impose a no-fly zone, as Kyiv has demanded, over the risk of engaging Russia in a wider war.

Ukrainian defence forces with NLAW anti-tank weapons in Kyiv last month: Nato countries have promised to send more advanced systems as a fresh assault by Russia looms
Kuleba said afterwards he was “cautiously optimistic” that alliance states would meet his demand but warned that delays would result in more deaths.

“Either you help us now, and I am speaking about days . . . or your help will come too late,” Kuleba said. The Ukranian diplomat added also added that without these weapons many people might die.

He added: “I was very specific about the requests and the timeline that they should be accommodated. I will be looking forward to the follow-up from allies.”

Ukraine has warned Russia is preparing a fresh offensive in the Donbas, aimed at seizing territory in the two administrative regions of Luhansk and Donetsk, which separatists have partially occupied since a Moscow-backed uprising in 2014.

Ukraine’s military authorities on Wednesday called on residents living in the regions to leave “while they still had the chance”.

Jens Stoltenberg, Nato’s secretary-general, said allies had agreed to “further strengthen” support for Ukraine immediately and in the “medium and long term”.

The promise of further military aid came amid regrets of Dmitry Peskov, Kremlin spokesperson, admitting Russia had suffered “significant losses of troops” during the invasion of Ukraine, which he described as “a huge tragedy” for his compatriots.

Peskov said Russia had withdrawn from Kyiv and Chernihiv in central Ukraine last week as a “goodwill act to lift tension from those regions and show Russia is really ready to create comfortable conditions to continue negotiations”, however fighting would continue in the Donbas, he added.

“It was a clear message from the meeting today that allies should do more and are ready to do more to supply more equipment. They realise and recognise the urgency,” he said.

Russia-Ukraine peace talks progress

Brussels 30.03.2022 A round of peace talks between Russia and Ukraine took place in Istanbul, Turkey, providing some perspective of progress. Ukrainian officials confirmed that the Ukrainian state was ready to declare itself permanently neutral and drop the project of joining NATO. More talks are expected to follow.

The delegation was also interested to discuss Russia’s territorial claims in exchange for “security guarantees” from a group of other states, mainly NATO allies.

The head of Russian delegations confirmed that the Russian military would “drastically” scale back its combat operations around Kyiv to “increase mutual trust.” However the activities aimed at establishing control over territories in eastern Ukraine continued.The operations around two separatist Republics recognised by Moscow recently as independent continued.

Western officials cautioned against taking at face value Russian delegation statements about its aims in Kyiv or elsewhere. President Biden said he would not draw any conclusions about the intentions of Russia and its military forces “until I see what their actions are.” The sanctions on Russia would remain in place, he added.

The Russian delegation suggested a meeting between Putin and Zelensky aiming at the endorsement of a bilateral peace treaty by the Foreign ministers.

“After today’s meaningful conversation, we agreed and suggest a solution, under which a meeting between the heads of state is possible concurrently with the endorsement of the treaty by the foreign ministers, the more so as during this initialing and consideration of the treaty’s details, it will be possible to discuss various political nuances and details,” Vladimir Medinsky, the head of the Russian delegation said after the Russian-Ukrainian talks in Istanbul.

“So, if the work on the treaty and a required compromise proceeds swiftly, the possibility of peace will be much closer,” he added.

NATO-Russia: Biden announces new sanctions

Brussels 24.03.2022 President Biden has given a press-conference after NATO and G7 Summits in Brussels touting unity in the Western response to Russia as allies worked behind the scenes to formulate their plans for the next phase of the conflict in Ukraine.

Biden said he supported ejecting Russia from G20, which is scheduled to convene in November, though other members of that grouping would have to sign on, admitting that at the moment there are some state opposing this perspective.

Biden maintained his view that direct U.S. military intervention in Ukraine would result in catastrophe and defended a sanctions regime which, according to him should bring results, if used on a wholesome and permanent basis as long as needed.
“Putin was banking on NATO being split,” Biden said in a news conference at NATO headquarters late afternoon.
“NATO has never, never been more united than it is today. Putin is getting exactly the opposite of what he intended to have as a consequence of going into Ukraine.”

During the critical day of meetings, Biden announced new measures directed at members of Russia’s Parliament – Duma – and unveiled a plan to accept as many as 100,000 refugees fleeing the violence in Ukraine, steps intended to show American resolve in confronting the crisis.

A discussion of NATO’s force posture along its eastern border was also part of the last-minute diplomatic effort. And leaders conferred on what to do if Russia deploys a chemical, biological or even nuclear weapon,the answer should be united, and decided on a consensus basis.

“The nature of the response would depend on the nature of the use,” Biden said, answering a question.

As the Summit got underway Thursday morning, leaders heard a call for more help from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who addressed the gathering online. He stopped short of issuing his usual request for a no-fly zone, however he insisted Ukraine needs fighter jets, tanks and air-defence systems.

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