West shows unity against Russia as NATO adds more troops to eastern flank
BRUSSELS — Western leaders on Thursday showed their unity against Russia’s war in Ukraine, with Washington seeking more military aid for kyiv, NATO allocating more troops to its eastern flank and London imposing new sanctions on Moscow.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy called on NATO, EU and G7 countries meeting in Brussels on Thursday to help kyiv fight the invasion, which has killed thousands and driven out a quarter of the country’s 44 million inhabitants of Ukraine.
“We have agreed to strengthen our longer-term deterrence and defence. We have also agreed to provide additional support to Ukraine and to continue to impose costs on Russia,” said the Secretary General of the NATO, Jens Stoltenberg, after the leaders meet at the headquarters of the Western military alliance. .
NATO, which has already massively increased its presence on its eastern borders since the start of the war, with some 40,000 soldiers spread from the Baltic to the Black Sea, agreed on Thursday to set up four new combat units in Bulgaria , Romania, Hungary and Slovakia. More jets will be deployed, he added.
The United States and its allies are also working to support Ukraine with anti-ship missiles, a senior US administration official said as US President Joe Biden took part in the closed session.
“The overall mood has been restrained, it’s been purposeful and it’s been incredibly united,” the official said of the atmosphere during the summit meeting.
NATO said in a statement that its continued support for Ukraine would include helping to protect it from possible chemical, biological or nuclear attacks.
NATO, however, rejected repeated pleas from kyiv to defend Ukrainian skies against Russian airstrikes, and Zelenskiy – who joined the NATO summit by video call – complained that the West had not equipped with modern tanks or anti-missile systems.
NATO will also not send troops or planes to Ukraine, Stoltenberg repeated, as the alliance has extended its mandate by one year until the end of September 2023.
“NATO has yet to show what the alliance can do to save people,” Zelenskiy said at the summit, adding that he believed Russian President Vladimir Putin also wanted to attack eastern members of the NATO. NATO – Poland and the Baltic States.
Putin says his “special military operation” is meant to demilitarize and “denazify” Ukraine. Ukraine and the West say Putin has launched an unprovoked war of aggression.
SANCTIONS & ENERGY
A NATO official estimated that up to 15,000 Russian troops have been killed in Ukraine so far and a total of 40,000 have been killed, wounded, taken prisoner or missing.
The month-long land, sea and air assault hit residential areas, schools and hospitals in Ukrainian cities including Kharkiv and the beleaguered port of Mariupol on the Sea of Azov. Russia denies targeting civilians.
Britain on Thursday imposed sanctions on another wave of Russian lenders, including Gazprombank and Alfa Bank, as well as a woman who London said was the daughter-in-law of Putin’s former foreign minister Sergei Lavrov. .
“Putin has already crossed the red line into barbarism,” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said, adding: “The tougher our sanctions…the more we can do to help Ukraine…the sooner this case can end”.
Johnson earlier told LBC radio that one option was to see if more could be done to prevent the Russian president from accessing his gold reserves, which could prevent people from buying Russian gold. to convert it into hard currency.
The resolve to punish Moscow with massive sanctions will also be underscored by an emergency meeting of the G7 advanced economies, which will bring Japan into the room with six NATO members, also in Brussels on Thursday.
The G7 and the EU will make it clear that any transactions involving gold linked to Russia’s central bank are covered by existing sanctions in a bid to prevent Russia from evading sanctions, the senior US official said.
Then, with a 27-nation European Union summit, countries representing more than half of the world’s gross domestic product will come together in one day.
“Cripple Putin’s war machine. Oil and gas are the heart of it,” Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas said. “We should create a special third-party account to prevent the revenues from being used to finance the war.”
The EU – which says it has already taken in some 3.6 million Ukrainian refugees – is only slowly moving away from Russian gas and still depends on Moscow for a large part of its energy needs.
Energy has been largely omitted from the sanctions, the biggest loophole in the measures that have otherwise frozen Russia from global trade to a degree never before attempted on such a large economy.
EU leaders are expected to agree at their summit to jointly buy gas, and Brussels is also hoping for a deal with Biden to secure additional supplies of US liquefied natural gas.
(Additional reporting by John Chalmers, Marine Strauss, Benoit Van Overstraeten, John Irish, Writing by Ingrid Melander and Gabriela Baczynska; Editing by Peter Graff and Andrew Heavens)