The head of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization said, on Sunday, that the security bloc will grant fast-track membership to Sweden and Finland, increasing pressure on Vladimir Putin, who justified his invasion of Ukraine by what he described as the need to move the military alliance away from Russia’s borders.
“President Putin wants to defeat Ukraine, defeat NATO, and divide North America and Europe,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in Berlin after a meeting with the foreign ministers of allied members. “But Ukraine stands up, NATO is stronger than ever, and Europe and North America are firmly united.”
Both countries said their requests were imminent. The Finnish parliament is expected to approve the NATO request on Monday. Sweden rule Democratic Socialist Party On Sunday, she said she would vote to join NATO – except to ensure that the Scandinavian country would end 200 years of neutrality.
NATO member states in Europe
NATO member states in Europe
The possibility of NATO forces deploying along Russia’s 810-mile border with Finland comes as Putin faces notable setbacks in the war he launched in Ukraine nearly three months ago.
Ukrainian forces have advanced near the Russian border in recent days after expelling Russian forces from the outskirts of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city. Evidence mounted on Sunday that the Russian offensive in the eastern Donbass region is faltering after modest initial gains.
Estimates Based on publicly available evidence Indicates that more than 400 Russian soldiers were killed or wounded Try to cross the Donets River In the village of Belohorivka, in the eastern Luhansk region, trying to encircle the Ukrainian forces. The disaster was likely to be one of the bloodiest clashes since the start of the war, leading even pro-Russian bloggers to express their concern, despite the Kremlin’s efforts to criminalize dissent.
“I’ve been silent for a long time,” said Yuri Podolyaka, a war blogger with 2.1 million followers on the messaging app Telegram, in a video. Spread On Friday, he said he avoided criticizing the Russian military.
“The last straw for my patience,” he said, “was the events around Belohorivka, in which at least one tactical group was burned, perhaps two, because of the stupidity of the Russian leadership.”
British intelligence officials Sunday said Russia lost a third of the ground forces it had committed to in the Ukraine offensive. Analysts say the rate of attrition, if confirmed, would make it extremely difficult for Russia to achieve a decisive victory against a well-motivated, well-equipped, and well-trained enemy.
But within Russia, the Kremlin’s propaganda and suppression of independent media has effectively shielded the majority of the population from the true human cost of the war. The emergency economic measures taken by the Russian government so far have mitigated the impact of the sanctions.
Western and Ukrainian officials say thousands of Russian soldiers have already been killed in the conflict. But reports of deaths have been tightly controlled by the state and concentrated among working-class families scattered across the world’s largest country, preventing local tragedies from merging into national grief.
Many Russians believe the war is no longer against Ukraine, but has turned into a proxy conflict with the United States and NATO, who they say are exploiting the conflict to destroy their nation, according to interviews with half a dozen Moscow residents. And in the province of Siberia.
Some said Russia would continue to fight if cornered, even if it risked provoking nuclear war.
Finland and Sweden’s decision to apply to join NATO has played a role in the Kremlin-driven blockade narrative, tapping into the patriotic sentiments of a country that prides itself on joining forces to fend off external threats over the centuries.
For their part, both Scandinavian countries have long been wary of Russian power.
Finland was part of the Russian Empire and fought to maintain its independence from the Soviet Union during World War II. Sweden and Russia fought for control of Eastern Europe in the 18th century.
But Finland and Sweden remained neutral after the Soviet Union confronted the United States and its allies in the aftermath of World War II. The end of this neutrality is a striking sign of the extent to which Mr. Putin’s strategic calculations in Ukraine have backfired and undermined Russia’s long-standing security priorities.
As a justification for invading Ukraine, Mr. Putin said he was concerned about NATO expansion, particularly the deployment of new missiles near the Russian border. This concern is shared by the majority of Russian citizens, who believe that the United States took advantage of their country’s post-Soviet weakness to bring missiles to its borders.
An application to join NATO must be approved unanimously by its 30 members. One of those members, Turkey, raised issues about the pending applications, although it indicated that it would not oppose admission if its security concerns were addressed.
Anthony J. said: Blinken, the US secretary of state, said after the Berlin meetings on Sunday that there was strong support among current NATO members to bring the two northern countries into the alliance. US officials said their application procedures should be completed within months, and Germany’s Foreign Minister, Annalena Barbock, said Sunday that her country would be among the first to ratify it.
The Baltic states joined NATO in 2004, bringing the alliance to the border with the heart of Russia. In 2008, President George W. Bush promised that Ukraine and Georgia could join NATO and prompted the alliance to make similar statements.
However, Western European countries were reluctant to fulfill this promise. Before the war, both the United States and European allies said that Ukraine will not be eligible to enter NATO anytime soon.
After the Russian invasion, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky urged Western powers to act on his government’s desire to join NATO, but he has since said he would be more open to a neutral Ukraine if its security was guaranteed.
On Sunday morning in Berlin, Mr. Blinkin met with Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba to discuss the war. The State Department said the two men discussed details of additional US security assistance to Ukraine.
Mr. Kuleba posted on Twitter a picture of the two of them standing in a room and smiling. “More weapons and other aid are on the way to Ukraine,” he wrote.
Edward Wong reported from Berlin, and Anatoly Kurmanaev from Mexico City. Contribute to reporting Anton Troyanovsky from New York; Carlotta Gal from Prudyanka, Ukraine; Ivan Nikiburnko from Tbilisi, Georgia; And Mark Santora From Krakow, Poland.
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