President Putin warns Sweden and Finland on NATO troops and infrastructure

Moscow: President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday that Russia would respond in kind if NATO deployed troops and infrastructure to Finland and Sweden after joining the US-led military alliance. “With Sweden and Finland, we don’t have problems with Ukraine. They want to join NATO, go ahead,” Putin told Russian state television after talks with regional leaders in the central Asian former Soviet state of Turkmenistan. “But they must understand that there was no threat earlier, whereas now, if troop and infrastructure are deployed there, we have to respond in kind and create equal threats to the areas from where the threats to us are. are born.”

He said it was inevitable that Moscow’s relations with Helsinki and Stockholm would deteriorate over their NATO membership. “Everything was fine between us, but there may be some tension now, for sure there will be,” he said. “If there is a threat to us it is inevitable.” Putin’s remarks came a day after NATO member Turkey lifted its veto on Finland and Sweden’s bid to join the alliance, when the three countries agreed to protect each other’s security.

The move means Helsinki and Stockholm can move forward with their application to join NATO, the biggest change in European security in decades. Putin said the aim of what Moscow calls its “special military operation” in Ukraine remained unchanged, aimed at “liberating” the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine and creating conditions to ensure Russia’s security.

He said Russian troops had advanced into Ukraine and the military intervention was going as planned. There was no need to set a time limit to end the campaign, he said.

Russia intensifies attacks on NATO plan for military aid to ‘heroic’ Ukraine

NATO on Wednesday described Russia as the biggest “direct threat” to Western security since its invasion of Ukraine and agreed to a plan to modernize Kyiv’s beleaguered armed forces, saying it would be Ukrainians’ “heroic defense of their country”. Stands completely behind. In a summit due to aggression and geopolitical turmoil, NATO also invited Sweden and Finland to join and put combat forces in its eastern flank on high alert against any future Russian attack by 2023. promised a fold increase.

In response, President Vladimir Putin said Russia would respond in kind if NATO established infrastructure in Finland and Sweden after joining the US-led military alliance.
Russian news agencies quoted Putin as saying he could not rule out that joining NATO would strain Moscow’s ties with Helsinki and Stockholm.

US President Joe Biden announced the deployment of more land, sea and air forces across Europe, from Spain in the west to Romania and Poland bordering Ukraine. These included a standing army headquarters with an accompanying battalion in Poland – the first full-time US deployment to the eastern edge of NATO.

“President Putin’s war against Ukraine has disturbed the peace in Europe and created the biggest security crisis in Europe since World War II,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told a news conference. “NATO has responded with strength and unity,” he said.

Britain said it would provide another 1 billion pounds ($1.2 billion) in military aid to Ukraine, including air defense systems, unmanned aerial vehicles and new electronic warfare equipment.

‘Fighting Everywhere’

As 30 national NATO leaders were meeting in Madrid, Russian forces intensified attacks in Ukraine, including missile strikes and shelling on the front lines in the southern Mykolaiv region and the Black Sea.
The mayor of the city of Mykolaiv said a Russian missile had killed at least five people in a residential building there, while Moscow said its forces had called the area a training base for foreign mercenaries.

The governor of eastern Luhansk province reported “fighting everywhere” in a battle around the mountainous city of Lisichansk, which Russian forces are trying to surround as separatist proxies try to capture the industrialized eastern Donbass region. Huh. Donbass includes Donetsk and Luhansk provinces.

Donetsk regional governor Pavlo Kirilenko told Ukrainian television that one civilian was killed and eight wounded in Russian attacks on Wednesday. Reuters was not able to independently verify the reports.
Also in Donetsk, a video clip broadcast on Russia’s RIA state news agency showed former US soldier Alexander Drucke who was caught fighting for the Ukrainian army.

“My combat experience here was a mission that day,” said Drucke from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, referring to the day he was captured outside Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city. “I didn’t fire a shot. I expect that to be a factor in whatever sentence I get or don’t get.”

President Volodymyr Zelensky once again told NATO that Ukraine’s military needed more weapons and money, and increasingly, to destroy Russia’s vast advances in artillery and missile firepower, and added that Moscow’s ambition was to destroy Ukraine. I didn’t stop.

The Russian offensive, which began on February 24, devastated cities, killed thousands and sent millions of people fleeing. Russia says it is conducting a “special military operation” to rid Ukraine of dangerous nationalists. Ukraine and the West accuse Russia of unprovoked, imperialist-style land grabs.

Top US intelligence official Avril Haines said on Wednesday that the near future is most likely a grinding conflict in which Moscow makes only incremental gains but sees no breakthrough on its goal of taking over much of Ukraine.

‘Absolute solidarity’

As for the sharp deterioration in relations with Russia since the invasion, a NATO communiqué called Russia “the most significant and direct threat to the security of allies”, which had previously classified it as a “strategic partner”. NATO issued a new strategic concept document, the first since 2010, which states that “a strong independent Ukraine is vital to the stability of the Euro-Atlantic region”.

To that end, NATO agreed a long-term financial and military aid package to modernize Ukraine’s largely Soviet-era military. “We stand in complete solidarity with the government and the people of Ukraine in the heroic defense of our country,” the release said.

Stoltenberg said NATO has agreed to put 300,000 troops on high readiness by 2023 under a new force model to defend the region stretching from the Baltic to the Black Sea, up from 40,000 now.

Zelensky said in a video link-up with the summit that Ukraine needs $5 billion a month for its defense and security. “This is not just a war waged by Russia against Ukraine. It is a war for the right to determine the circumstances in Europe – what the future world order will be like,” he said.

NATO’s invitation to Sweden and Finland to join the alliance is one of the most significant changes in European security in decades as Helsinki and Stockholm abandon the tradition of neutrality in response to an invasion of Russia.