Thursday, August 18, 2022

Russia and China slam NATO after alliance raises alarm

NATO faced rebukes from Moscow and Beijing on Thursday after it declared Russia a “direct threat” and said China posed “serious challenges ” to global stability.
During a summit in Madrid, the Western military alliance described a world plunged into a dangerous phase of big-power competition and facing myriad threats, from cyberattacks to climate change.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said as the summit wrapped up Thursday that member nations agreed on a “fundamental shift in our deterrence and defence” and sent Moscow a clear message that the alliance had a firm line drawn on its eastern frontier.
“We live in a more dangerous world and we live in a more unpredictable world, and we live in a world where we have a hot war going on in Europe,” Stoltenberg said.
“At the same time, we also know that this can get worse if this becomes a full scale war between Russia and NATO.”
Stoltenberg continued: “We want to remove any room for miscalculation, misunderstanding in Moscow, about our readiness to protect every inch of NATO territory. That’s NATO’s core responsibility.”
Over their three days of talks in Spain, NATO leaders formally invited Finland and Sweden to join the alliance, after overcoming opposition from Turkey. If the Nordic nations’ accession is approved by the 30 member nations, it will give NATO a 1,300 kilometer border with Russia.
Russian President Vladimir Putin warned he would respond in kind if the Nordic pair allowed NATO troops and military infrastructure onto their territory. He said Russia would have to “create the same threats for the territory from which threats against us are created”.
Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas said Putin’s threats were “nothing new”.
“Of course, we have to expect some kind of surprises from Putin, but I doubt that he is attacking Sweden or Finland directly,” Kallas said as she arrived at the summit’s conference centre venue.
“We will see cyberattacks definitely. We will see hybrid attacks, information war is going on. But not the conventional war.”
China accused the alliance of “maliciously attacking and smearing” the country. Its mission to the European Union said NATO “claims that other countries pose challenges, but it is NATO that is creating problems around the world”.
NATO leaders turned their gaze south for a final summit session on Thursday focused on Africa’s Sahel region and the Middle East, where political instability — aggravated by climate change and food insecurity sparked by the war in Ukraine — is driving large numbers of migrants toward Europe.
At the summit, NATO leaders agreed to dramatically scale up military force along the alliance’s eastern flank, where countries from Romania to the Baltic states worry about Russia’s future plans.
They announced plans to increase almost eightfold the size of the alliance’s rapid reaction force, from 40,000 to 300,000 troops, by next year.
The troops will be based in their home nations but dedicated to specific countries in the east, where the alliance plans to build up stocks of equipment and ammunition.

SourceAP

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