NATO is “at a pivotal moment” in its history, said the organization’s secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, opening the debates involving all the leaders of the Alliance until Thursday in Madrid in margin of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. During this summit, intended in particular to revise the Alliance’s roadmap for the first time since 2010, “we are going to say clearly that Russia represents a direct threat to our security”, continued Jens Stoltenberg.
Information to remember:
- A decisive NATO summit, marked by the war in Ukraine this Wednesday
- The United States and its allies froze 330 billion Russian dollars
- Turkey gave its agreement on Tuesday evening to the entry into NATO of Finland and Sweden
- Civilian casualties in Lysychansk, twin town of Severodonetsk
- Ukraine announces exchange of 144 soldiers
- Boris Johnson says Vladimir Putin wouldn’t have started the war if he was a woman
Ukraine will participate in the next G20 summit according to its “composition”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Wednesday warned his Indonesian counterpart, Joko Widodo, who is visiting kyiv, that his participation in the G20 summit in his country in November would depend “on the security situation in Ukraine and the composition of the summit’s members. “.
He did not directly mention Russian President Vladimir Putin, but the latter’s participation, invited by Indonesia, is the subject of intense diplomatic controversy, with Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi saying it was “excluded”. in the context of the invasion of Ukraine, while the Kremlin maintains that the invitation has been accepted.
Exchange of 144 soldiers, including 95 “Azovstal defenders”
Ukraine announced on Wednesday that it had exchanged 144 soldiers with Russia, including 95 “defenders of Azovstal” in Mariupol (southeast), who had defended this port city besieged by the Russian army for several weeks before surrendering. “This is the biggest exchange (with Moscow) since the start of the Russian invasion,” the Main Intelligence Directorate, attached to the Ukrainian Defense Ministry, said on Telegram, without giving further details on the place and the date of the operation.
Strengthening NATO’s military presence
This meeting, more than four months after the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24, will endorse the strengthening of the military presence on the eastern flank of NATO, which will also increase the number of its forces at a high level of readiness to more than 300,000 soldiers.
“This is the most important reorganization of our collective defense since the Cold War”, insisted Jens Stoltenberg. “We are there” and “we are proving that NATO is more necessary than ever”, insisted American President Joe Biden, who announced for his part a reinforcement of the American military presence throughout Europe and in particular in the Baltic States.
Zelensky calls for more NATO support
Speaking by videoconference to the leaders of the Alliance, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Wednesday asked for increased support from NATO, to allow kyiv to face Russian forces. “For us to break the preponderance of Russian artillery, (…) we need a lot more of these modern systems, this modern artillery”, indicated Volodymyr Zelensky, specifying that kyiv needed “about 5 billions of dollars a month” to ensure its defense.
NATO countries, which have already provided billions of dollars in aid to Kyiv, must agree in Madrid “on a comprehensive program of assistance to Ukraine to help it enforce its right to legitimate defence”, according to Jens Stoltenberg.
Norway sends three rocket launcher batteries to Ukraine
At the same time, Norway announced on Wednesday the dispatch to Ukraine of three batteries of MLRS long-range rocket launchers. On Tuesday, the German and Dutch defense ministers announced the delivery of six additional howitzers.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, who had justified the offensive against Ukraine in particular by the fear of a new enlargement towards the east of NATO, “hoped for less NATO on his western front following his invasion illegal Ukraine”, but “he was completely wrong”: “he gets more NATO”, insisted British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
UK sanctions Russian oligarch Vladimir Potanin
The United Kingdom on Wednesday announced sanctions against Vladimir Potanin, Russia’s second-richest man, and other members of President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle, in retaliation for the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Aged 61, Vladimir Potanin is one of Russia’s most powerful and well-known oligarchs. Close to Vladimir Putin, he was in 2021 the second richest personality in Russia with a fortune estimated at 27 billion dollars, according to Forbes magazine.
He is the owner and founder of the investment fund Interros, which bought the Russian bank Rosbank after its sale by Société Générale, which was the majority shareholder. “As long as Putin continues his appalling attack on Ukraine, we will use sanctions to weaken the Russian war machine,” a British government spokesman said in a statement.
The United States and its allies freeze 330 billion Russian dollars
The United States and its allies have frozen more than $330 billion in Russian assets since the start of the conflict in Ukraine, the US Treasury said on Wednesday. In detail, Western allies have blocked $30 billion in assets held by sanctioned Russian oligarchs or elites, and “immobilized” some $300 billion from the Russian Central Bank, a statement issued by the “task force” of Western allies responsible for tracking the assets of Russian elites (Repo), and published by the US Treasury.
Also seized were at least five luxury yachts and real estate owned or controlled by sanctioned Russian nationals. “Together, we will ensure that sanctions continue to impose costs on Russia for its unprovoked and prolonged aggression in Ukraine,” the statement said.
A “comprehensive assistance program” for Ukraine
NATO countries, which have already provided billions of dollars in aid to Kyiv, will agree in Madrid “on a comprehensive assistance program for Ukraine to help it enforce its right to legitimate defence,” promised Jens Stoltenberg on Tuesday. “It is extremely important that we are ready to continue to provide our support because Ukraine today faces brutality that we have not seen in Europe since the Second World War,” he urged. . A message relayed by French President Emmanuel Macron, who called on the Alliance for a “message of unity and strength” after a G7 meeting in Germany, organized ahead of the NATO summit. “Russia cannot and must not win” the war, he insisted.
For his part, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will call on all Alliance countries on Wednesday to increase their military spending in response to the Russian invasion, in order to “restore deterrence and provide defense for the decade to come”. , according to Downing Street.
End of the Turkish veto
Beyond Ukraine, Wednesday should be an opportunity for NATO to adopt its new “strategic concept”, the first revision of its roadmap since 2010, which should evoke for the first time the challenges posed by China. It will also be an opportunity to launch the accession process for Finland and Sweden, which decided to join NATO in reaction to the offensive launched by Russia in Ukraine on February 24, breaking with a long tradition of neutrality. This membership has so far been blocked by Turkey, a member of NATO since 1952, which accused Stockholm and Helsinki in particular of harboring militants of the Kurdish organization PKK, which Ankara considers “terrorist”.
But after long negotiations on the sidelines of the summit, Turkey gave its agreement on Tuesday evening to the entry into NATO of these two Nordic countries, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan having estimated that he had obtained their “full cooperation” in his fight against the PKK. “NATO’s open door policy” has resulted in “a historic success”, welcomed Jens Stoltenberg. “Welcoming Finland and Sweden to the alliance will make them more secure, NATO stronger and the Euro-Atlantic area more secure,” he insisted.
In a statement, US President Joe Biden “congratulated Turkey, Finland and Sweden” for signing this agreement. “As we begin this historic summit in Madrid, our Alliance is stronger, more united and more determined than ever,” he said. This agreement will allow NATO countries to show their unity on Wednesday. But the formal entry of the two countries, which must be ratified by the parliaments of the 30 member states of the Alliance, is a long process that takes months.
“Cycle of Death”
This NATO summit comes as Ukraine continues to pay a heavy price on the ground because of the Russian invasion. The Ukrainian authorities thus reported on Tuesday several deadly strikes against civilians, in particular in Lyssytchansk, twin city of that of Severodonetsk, located in a pocket of strategic Ukrainian resistance in the Donbass basin (east). These strikes came the day after an attack that ravaged a crowded shopping center in Kremenchuk, 330 kilometers southeast of kyiv, leaving at least 18 people dead and around 40 missing, according to Ukrainian authorities.
This bombardment is “one of the most shameless terrorist acts in European history”, denounced Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, asking that Russia be designated as a “State sponsor of terrorism” after this strike on “a peaceful city “. During a live intervention on Tuesday evening before the UN Security Council, he suggested sending a commission of inquiry and once again demanded that Russia be expelled from its permanent seat. “The cycle of death, of destruction must end. For the good of Ukraine, Russia and the whole world”, pleaded at the start of the meeting the UN Under-Secretary General for Political Affairs, Rosemary DiCarlo.
Moscow, which has ensured since the start of the war that it wants to “demilitarize” and “denazify” its neighbor, however on Tuesday ruled out interrupting its offensive until Ukraine capitulated. “We must order the Ukrainian soldiers to lay down their arms and implement all the conditions set by Russia. Then everything will be over in one day,” said Dmitry Peskov, Vladimir Putin’s spokesman.
Putin wouldn’t have started the war if he was a woman, says Johnson
Russian President Vladimir Putin would not have started the war in Ukraine if he had been a woman, said British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, deeming it desirable that there be more women in power. “If Putin was a woman, which he obviously isn’t, I really don’t think he would have embarked on this crazy macho war” aimed at “invading” Ukraine,” he said. He told German television channel ZDF on Tuesday evening. Russia’s outbreak of this war is “a perfect example of male toxicity”, he further said.
He generally called for better education of young girls around the world and for there to be more “women in positions of power”. In addition, the head of the British government acknowledged that “everyone wants the war to end”, but for the moment “there is no possible agreement, Putin is not making a peace offer”.
The Western strategy immediately aims to support Ukraine to allow it to be in the best possible strategic position if one day peace negotiations can begin with Moscow, he added.