A few days after the G7 was held in Germany, another important summit is being held this Wednesday. In Madrid, more than 40 heads of state and government are meeting to discuss the future of NATO, in a context where requests for membership are multiplying in reaction to the Russian invasion in Ukraine. The day before, at the opening of this long-planned meeting, the Secretary General of the Atlantic Alliance Jens Stoltenberg spoke of a “pivotal summit” to qualify this meeting on Spanish soil. Invited to participate in the discussions, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will speak twice by videoconference. The day could be historic in many ways.
Wednesday should be an opportunity for NATO to adopt its new “strategic concept”, the first revision of its roadmap since 2010. It should therefore review its quantified objectives both on the size of the forces of the NATO than on its missions. This summit will also be an opportunity to launch the accession process for Finland and Sweden, which chose 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. Jens Stoltenberg was moved by the outcome of these discussions, referring to “a historic success”. Joe Biden meanwhile “congratulated Turkey, Finland and Sweden” for signing this agreement.
In the wake of the return to war in Europe, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson intends, this Wednesday, to call on his allies of the Transatlantic Organization, meeting at the summit in Madrid, to increase their military spending. NATO countries committed in 2014, after the annexation of Crimea by Russia, to increase their defense budget to 2% of their GDP by 2024. Only eight countries have reached this goal today . However, the war triggered a large wave of rearmament on the European continent.
All member countries must adapt to “new and stronger threats”, explains the British government which communicated Tuesday on the intentions of Downing Street. In this sense, the government of Boris Johnson is in favor of strengthening the British military presence in Estonia, a Baltic country bordering Russia. It largely intends to contribute to the expansion of the contingent of NATO forces from 40,000 to 300,000 men. London has been very active in military support to Ukraine since the beginning of the conflict, since the country has already donated 1.5 billion euros worth of military equipment.
In a statement to the press, Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, clarified the intention of the intensification of the offensives carried out by the Russian army in the Donbass: “The Ukrainian soldiers must be ordered to lay down their arms and we must implement all the conditions set by Russia. Then everything will be over in one day.”
The statement comes a day after a devastating Russian strike on a shopping center in Kremenchuk in central Ukraine on Monday killed at least 18 civilians. On Tuesday, the Ukrainian authorities had warned of another deadly Russian strike against civilians in Lyssytchansk, a strategic pocket of Ukrainian resistance in the Donbass basin. Volodymyr Zelensky called these acts terrorist.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called on the UN Security Council on Tuesday to send a contingent of investigators to prove that the Kremenchuk shopping center was indeed destroyed by a Russian missile. Russia denies having targeted a civilian installation, claiming to have bombed an arms depot. “The ammunition stored in the warehouse caused a fire which spread to the shopping center”, justified the Russian representative Dmitry Polyanskiy. The Russian strike left at least 18 dead and 59 injured.
For his second live intervention before the United Nations since the beginning of the war, the Head of State obtained from the 15 members, including Russia, the respect of a minute of silence for “all the Ukrainians killed in the war”. Before the emergency session, which had been requested by kyiv, six countries including France, the United Kingdom, the United States and Albania, joined by the Ukrainian ambassador to the UN, had “strongly condemned the ‘intensification of Russian missile strikes on the territory of Ukraine, targeting residential areas and civilian infrastructure, between June 25 and 27’, including the one targeting Kremenchuk. They demand an end to “Russian hostilities” and the withdrawal of Russian forces from Ukrainian territory.