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.”
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev signed a statement on ending the war in Nagorno-Karabakh, the Armenian leader wrote on his Facebook page on Tuesday.
“I signed a statement with the presidents of Russia and Azerbaijan on ending the Karabakh war since 01:00 (00:00 Moscow Time). The text of the published statement is inexpressibly sensitive for me personally and for our people. I made the decision after a deep analysis of the military situation and the assessment by people who know it better than anyone,” Pashinyan said, noting that he made “a very and very hard decision”.
According to Pashinyan, “this step is based on a conviction that this is the best possible solution in the current situation.” “I will speak in detail about all this in the coming days. This is not victory, but there won’t be a defeat unless you recognize yourself as a loser. We will never recognize ourselves as losers and this should usher in our era of national unification and revival,” he said.
The United States warned North Korea’s leadership it would be “utterly destroyed” in case of war break out after Pyongyang again launched this time its most advanced missile, putting the U.S. mainland within range, in violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions.
The Trump administration has repeatedly stated all options are on the table in dealing with North Korea’s ballistic and nuclear weapons programmes, including military ones, but that it still prefers a diplomatic option.
Speaking at an emergency U.N. Security Council meeting, U.S. ambassador Nikki Haley said the United States had never sought war with North Korea.
“If war does come, it will be because of continued acts of aggression like we witnessed yesterday,” she said. “…and if war comes, make no mistake, the North Korean regime will be utterly destroyed.”
Haley said the United States has asked China to cut off oil supply to North Korea, a drastic step that Beijing – the North’s neighbour and sole major trading partner – has so far refrained from doing. Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping talked on the phone earlier on this week.
A State Department official said that the Russian proposal calling to bar U.S. military aircrafts from flying over designated safe zones cannot “limit” the U.S.’s mission against ISIS in the country in any way.
“The coalition will continue to strike ISIS targets in Syria,” the official told The Wall Street Journal. “The campaign to defeat ISIS will continue at the same relentless pace as it is proceeding now.”
A deal hammered out by Russia, Turkey and Iran to set up “de-escalation zones” in mostly opposition-held parts of Syria went into effect Saturday.
The plan is the latest international attempt to reduce violence in the war-ravaged country, and is the first to envisage armed foreign monitors on the ground in Syria. The United States is not party to the agreement and the Syrian rivals have not signed on to the deal. The armed opposition, instead, was highly critical of the proposal, saying it lacks legitimacy.
Private companies are increasingly used by European countries and the EU to provide security and military services in missions abroad. However, military tasks and the protection of civilians are heavy responsibilities and if something goes wrong it can have fatal consequences. Parliament’s foreign affairs committee has drafted rules to increase the accountability of private security firms and prevent them from taking on military combat tasks. MEPs will vote on the report during the June plenary.
When 17 innocent civilians were killed on Nisour Square by the employees of private company Blackwater contracted by the US army in Baghdad on 16 September 2007, it caused outrage and raised questions on why security was being outsourced to the private sector. Unfortunately, this was not an isolated incident as private contractors have been involved in wounding and killing civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan on various occations. In addition, their employees are rarely convicted.
Private security firms provide services ranging from armed security guards, to maintenance and operation of weapon systems, combat support, running prisons and interrogations, intelligence and research.
Private companies have been accused of human rights violations and even causing casualties. They are also subject to less accountability and government control. Some are concerned that they might be above the law and unaccountable for human rights violations and abuses.
They are used in the EU and outside the EU to compensate for shrinking armed forces or to avoid limitations on the use of troops. According to 2013 figures, there were 40,000 private security companies in the EU employing more than 1.5 million people.
The own-initiative report by the foreign affairs and defence committees call for EU-wide rules on private security companies and say their use should be limited to logistical support and the protection of installations, while only EU-based firms should be used for protection tasks abroad.