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NATO, European Council and G7 leaders meet in Belgium to concert efforts to help Ukraine
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NATO, European Council, and G7 leaders meet in Belgium to concert efforts to help Ukraine and show unity in the face of the threat of Vladimir Putin’s regime. Atlantic Alliance doubles battalions to the east and more sanctions are on the way.

This war will not end easily or quickly”, predicts President Joe Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, hours before the American’s arrival in Brussels. The Russian invasion of Ukraine, Joe Biden participates in no less than three high-level meetings, with NATO allies, EU and G7 partners. of the war, but which will also bring more announcements of aid measures to Ukraine and sanctions on the regime of Vladimir Putin, a day after the US government concluded that the Russian military committed war crimes.

“The president is traveling to Europe to ensure that we stand together, to strengthen our collective resolve, to send a powerful message that we are prepared and committed to this for as long as it takes,” Sullivan said.

Before leaving for Europe, Biden declined to anticipate what he will say to partners in what is seen as a historic opportunity for the US president to get the US to lead the West again – a scenario impossible a couple of years ago, when former president Donald Trump treated European countries as rivals and criticized their leaders, in opposition to praising the Russian leader.

At the NATO summit, the reinforcement of US troops permanently in Eastern Europe is discussed, one day after the announcement of the creation of four battalions.

This new phase of transatlantic relations was also not part of the White House’s plans, more concerned with the pandemic and economic recovery, in terms of domestic policy, and in the rivalry with China and the fight against climate change, in terms of the external policy. “You can hear the tires screeching from here,” says Jim Townsend, deputy assistant secretary of defense during Obama’s presidency, of the change of course in Washington, speaking to NPR.

The NATO countries that belonged to the Iron Curtain have repeatedly asked for a reinforcement of NATO resources and some have been in the front line in the supply of weapons and equipment to Ukraine. Biden’s national security adviser said he will discuss with allies whether more troops are needed in Baltic and Eastern Europe, particularly in the longer term.

NATO’s secretary general said that the nuclear threat is irresponsible. “Russia must understand that a nuclear war must never be fought and that it can never be won.”

On Wednesday, the secretary-general of NATO anticipated that he will propose at the emergency meeting of the Atlantic Alliance – in which the Ukrainian president will participate by videoconference after having spoken the day before to the parliaments of Japan and France – the reinforcement of personnel on the eastern European flank, with the constitution of four battalions in Bulgaria, Slovakia, Hungary, and Romania. After Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, NATO created battalions in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland. “This means that we will have eight NATO battalions, all on the eastern flank, from the Baltic to the Black Sea,” said Jens Stoltenberg.

The Norwegian leader said that at the moment there are 100,000 US troops in Europe and 40,000 troops under direct NATO command, mostly in the east, and that he will ask for increased aid to Ukraine, which will include cybersecurity assistance and equipment. for protection against chemical, biological and nuclear threats.

The day before, the Kremlin did not exclude the possibility of using nuclear weapons “in case of an existential threat”. Stoltenberg’s answer is that Russia must stop such communications. “This is dangerous and irresponsible. NATO exists to protect and defend all allies and we send a very clear message to Russia that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought. Any use of nuclear weapons will fundamentally alter the nature of the conflict, and Russia must understand that a nuclear war must never be fought and that it can never be won,” he said.

Still with regard to military aid, Germany and Sweden, two countries that ended their decades-old doctrine of not providing lethal material, announced reinforcements for Ukraine. Berlin will send 2000 anti-tank weapons and 1700 surface-to-air missiles are on the way, while Stockholm will send another 5000 anti-tank weapons.

At the meetings with the EU and the group of more industrialized countries, which take place in the afternoon, Joe Biden is expected to announce more sanctions on Russian deputies, and above all concerted measures among the allies so that the Russian elite does not escape the measures. However, a European boycott of Russian oil and gas is not to be expected. One possibility on the table is to freeze Russian gold reserves, valued at 130 billion dollars. Another sanction under consideration is the expulsion of Russia from the G20, as happened to the G8 after the capture of Crimea, but it is already known that Beijing does not agree. A common approach to China will also be discussed with the EU, so that Beijing does not provide military or economic aid to Moscow. On 1 April there is an EU-China summit.

On the ground, as a result of an agreement to open nine humanitarian corridors, more than 4,500 people left Mariupol in private cars, but there are still about 100,000 people left in the destroyed city, in which the Russians are making progress. Overall, however, “Putin’s offensive is stalled despite all the destruction it is bringing day after day,” as German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said in the Bundestag. Russian casualties, according to a NATO estimate, are between 7,000 and 15,000 soldiers, and the total number of wounded, killed and captured is projected to be between 30,000 and 40,000.

Russia attacked 64 hospitals

The new war front unleashed by Russia on February 24 has led to the destruction and death of 64 health facilities, said World Health Organization (WHO) director-general Tedros Ghebreyesus. “Health systems, facilities and health workers are not and should not be a target,” he said. Moscow denies bombing targets other than military and infrastructure and in relation to the maternity and children’s hospital in Mariupol, which was attacked on the 10th, the Russian Defense Ministry accused Ukraine of a “staged provocation”.

“We have perhaps for once reached an unprecedented level of horror at what is happening in Ukraine and particularly at what is happening in Mariupol. And I hope that is the new level of horror that we will express in all these situations across the world. world from now”, commented Mike Ryan, director of the WHO emergencies program, regretting that the basic principles of humanitarian aid and assistance are being ignored.

Source: with agencies

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