Expanding Nato squares up to Russia as Putin slams ‘imperial’ alliance

MADRID: US vows to strengthen Europe’s defenses after Russia Invades Ukrainewhen Nato declared Moscow the greatest threat to the West – causing Vladimir Putin to lash out at the alliance’s “imperial ambitions”.
Meeting in Madrid on Wednesday, NATO leaders said that Russia “is the most immediate and significant threat to the security of our allies and to peace and stability in the Middle East.” Euro-Atlantic Area“.
This happened when Nato officially invited Sweden and Finland to join the alliance, and the US President Joe Biden announced new deployments of US troops, ships and aircraft.
Mr. Biden said the US move was exactly what Russian President Putin “didn’t want” – and Moscow, facing fierce resistance from Western-armed Ukrainian forces, responded with predictable anger.
Putin accused the alliance of seeking to assert its “supremacy”, telling journalists in the Turkmen capital Ashgabat that Ukraine and its people were a “vehicle” for Nato to “defend its interests” themselves”.
“The leaders of NATO countries want … to assert their supremacy, their imperial ambitions,” the Russian president added.
NATO leaders have transferred billions of dollars in weapons to Ukraine and face a new call from President Volodymyr Zelenskyy for longer range artillery.
“How long can Ukraine count on us,” Nato Director Jens Stoltenberg said at the summit that ended on Thursday, announcing a new strategic overview focusing on the Moscow threat.
The document, updated for the first time since 2010, warns that the alliance “cannot reduce the likelihood” of an attack on its members.
“Today in Madrid, Nato proved that they can make difficult but necessary decisions. We welcome a clear stance on Russia, as well as the accession of Finland and Sweden.” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said.
However, Putin rejected Nato’s invitations to Finland and Sweden, countries that have given up decades of military disengagement in response to the invasion, as “no problem”.
Russian Missiles continued rain throughout Ukraine. Zelenskyy said that a missile attack on the southern city of Mykolaiv destroyed a five-story building, killing at least five people.
The city of Lysychansk in the Eastern Donbas – the current focus of Russian attack – is also facing constant bombardment.
The governor of the Lugansk region, Sergiy Gaiday, said in televised comments on Wednesday, adding that the evacuation of some 15,000 civilians still in the city “could be very dangerous at the moment. ”
In Kremenchuk, the town where a Russian missile on Monday destroyed a shopping mall and killed at least 18 civilians, cleanup operations continued.
A giant crane was working near the crash site, and in the wrecked parking lot, shopping carts piled up with abandoned clothes and household items.
At a hospital in the city, several injured people recalled the moment of the attack.
“We didn’t hear the sound of the missile hitting the target – a sudden, flash of applause and we were blown away,” said Petr Ozhereliev, an employee at the shopping mall.
“I guess I passed out, because when I woke up I was crawling out of the rubble.”
Western leaders have called the attack of the Kremenchuk Palace a War Crimes. Russia said it attacked a Western weapons depot, and Putin on Wednesday denied Moscow’s forces were responsible for the attack.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian officials say 144 of their soldiers, most of them guarding the Azovstal steel plant in the southern port city of Mariupol, have been freed in a prisoner swap with Moscow.
Moscow’s invasion triggered massive economic sanctions and a wave of support for Zelensky’s government, including the supply of advanced weapons, as well as the strengthening of Europe’s defenses.
Washington has announced that they will move their 5th Army headquarters to Poland.
An army brigade will rotate in and out of Romania, two squadrons of F-35 fighter jets will deploy to the UK, US air defense systems will be sent to Germany and Italy, and the Navy’s fleet of destroyers will be deployed. American troops in Spain will increase from four to six. .
Britain also pledged another $1.2 billion in military aid to Ukraine on Wednesday, including air defense systems and drones.
In a report released on Thursday, Amnesty International said a theater sheltering civilians destroyed in March in the besieged city of Mariupol was likely hit by an air strike. Russia against war crimes.
Oksana Pokalchuk, head of Amnesty’s Ukraine branch, told AFP: “So far we are talking about a war crime.
However, the team also found that the death toll may be less than initially predicted. Amnesty believes at least a dozen people died in the attack although it is likely that many more deaths have yet to be reported.
The Mariupol city government gave an initial estimate of about 300 deaths.

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