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Wednesday, February 21, 2024

NATO chief says Russia poses a ‘direct threat’ to alliance

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NATO leaders meeting in Madrid Wednesday are set to label Russia a menace to their security as they overhaul the alliance’s defences in response to the war on Ukraine, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said.

“We’ll state clearly that Russia poses a direct threat to our security,” Stoltenberg said ahead of the unveiling of NATO’s new strategic blueprint.

Stoltenberg said the meeting in Madrid was set to be “historic and transformative” for the seven-decade-old alliance as it grapples with the fallout from Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

“We meet in the midst of the most serious security crisis we have faced since the Second World War,” Stoltenberg said.

NATO is due to launch the largest revamp of its defence and deterrence capabilities since the end of the Cold War by strengthening the forces on its eastern flank and massively ramping up the number of troops it has at high readiness.

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It is also set for the first time to turn its attention to the challenge posed by the rising might of China in an update to its guiding “strategic concept.”

“China’s not an adversary,” Stoltenberg said.

“But of course, we need to take into account the consequences to our security when we see China investing heavily in new modern military capabilities, long range missiles or nuclear weapons and also trying to control critical infrastructure for instance, 5G.”

In a sign of this shift the leaders of partners South Korea and Japan will attend a NATO summit for the first time.

For his part, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Russian President Vladimir Putin would not have started the war in Ukraine if he was a woman.

“If Putin was a woman, which he obviously isn’t, but if he were, I really don’t think he would’ve embarked on a crazy, macho war of invasion and violence in the way that he has,” Johnson told German broadcaster ZDF on Tuesday evening.

Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is “a perfect example of toxic masculinity,” he said, calling for better education for girls around the world and for “more women in positions of power.”

The British Prime Minister acknowledged that “of course people want the war to end,” but for the moment “there’s no deal available. Putin isn’t making an offer of peace.”

Western allies must support Ukraine to enable it to be in the best possible strategic position in the event that peace negotiations with Moscow do become possible, he added.

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