NATO summit to open as leader warns of ‘dangerous’ world | business news

By JILL LAWLESS and JOSEPH WILSON, Associated Press

MADRID (AP) — Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has sparked a “fundamental change” in NATO’s defense approach, and member states will have to increase their military spending in an increasingly unstable world, the alliance leader said. on Tuesday.

Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg spoke as US President Joe Biden and other NATO leaders began arriving in Madrid for a summit that will set the course for the alliance for years to come. He said the meeting would map out a plan for the alliance “in a more dangerous and unpredictable world.”

“In order to defend ourselves in a more dangerous world, we have to invest more in our defense,” Stoltenberg said. Only nine of NATO’s 30 members meet the organization’s goal of spending 2% of gross domestic product on defense.

Top of the leaders’ agenda at the meetings on Wednesday and Thursday is to strengthen defenses against Russia and support Ukraine.

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The invasion of Moscow on February 24 shattered European security and led to the bombing of cities and bloody ground battles on the continent. NATO, which had begun to focus its attention on terrorism and other non-state threats, has once again had to face an adversary Russia.

“Ukraine now faces brutality that we have not seen in Europe since World War II,” Stoltenberg said.

Russia’s invasion has also prompted Sweden and Finland to abandon their status as non-aligned countries and apply to join NATO. But they are being blocked by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has insisted he will only allow the Nordic couple entry if they change his stance on Kurdish rebel groups that Turkey considers terrorists.

Stoltenberg said “we hope to make progress” on the issue in Madrid.

Diplomats and leaders of the three countries have held a series of talks in an attempt to break the impasse. The leaders of the three countries will meet in Madrid together with Stoltenberg on Tuesday.

Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde told the Svenska Dagbladet newspaper that negotiations with Turkey had “progressed” and that “something positive” could happen in Madrid, but “it may also take longer”.

Erdogan criticizes what he sees as Sweden’s and Finland’s lax approach to groups Ankara sees as national security threats, including the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, and its Syrian extension. US support for Syrian Kurdish fighters fighting the Islamic State group has also angered Turkey for years.

Turkey has demanded that Finland and Sweden extradite wanted individuals and lift weapons restrictions imposed after Turkey’s 2019 military incursion into northeastern Syria.

The Turkish leader showed no signs of backing down as he left Ankara for Madrid.

“We do not want empty words. We want results,” Erdogan said.

Jamie Shea, a former senior NATO official who is an associate at the Chatham House think tank, said the Madrid meeting, with national leaders present under the gaze of the media, “is the moment of maximum pressure” to achieve a commitment.

“It is in Madrid or it is likely to last a long time,” he said.

Ending the impasse over Sweden and Finland would allow NATO leaders to focus on their key issue: an increasingly unpredictable and aggressive Russia.

A Russian missile attack Monday on a shopping mall in the central Ukrainian city of Kremenchuk was a grim reminder of the horrors of war. Some saw the timing, as the Group of Seven leaders met in Germany and just before NATO, as a message from Moscow.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who will address NATO leaders by video on Wednesday, called the attack on the mall a “terrorist” act.

Stoltenberg said Monday that NATO allies will agree at the summit to increase the alliance’s quick reaction force nearly eightfold, from 40,000 to 300,000 troops. The troops will be based in their home countries, but dedicated to specific countries on NATO’s eastern flank, where the alliance plans to build up reserves of equipment and ammunition.

Beneath the surface, there are tensions within NATO over how the war will end and what concessions, if any, Ukraine should make to end the fighting.

There are also differences in how harshly China should be taken on in NATO’s new Strategic Concept: its once-a-decade set of priorities and goals. The latest document, published in 2010, did not mention China at all.

The new concept is expected to set NATO’s focus on China’s growing economic and military reach and the growing importance and power of the Indo-Pacific region. For the first time, the leaders of Japan, Australia, South Korea and New Zealand are attending the summit as guests.

Some European members are wary of the US hard line on Beijing and do not want China to present itself as an opponent alongside Russia.

Stoltenberg said last week that “we don’t view China as an adversary,” but added that it “poses some challenges to our values, to our interests, to our security.”

Follow AP’s coverage of the war at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

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