Russia, China Slam NATO Alarm 06/30 06:24
NATO faced rebukes from Moscow and Beijing on Thursday after it declared
Russia a "direct threat" and said China posed "serious challenges " to global
MADRID (AP) -- 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.
The Western military alliance was wrapping up a summit in Madrid, where it
issued a stark warning that the world has been plunged into a dangerous phase
of big-power competition and myriad threats, from cyberattacks to climate
NATO leaders also 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 new 800-mile (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 center venue. "We will see cyberattacks definitely. We
will see hybrid attacks, information war is going on. But not the conventional
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
NATO leaders turned their gaze south for a final summit session 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.
"It is in our interest to continue working with our close partners in the
south to fight shared challenges together," NATO Secretary-General Jens
But it was Russia that dominated the summit. Stoltenberg said Moscow's
invasion of Ukraine had brought "the biggest overhaul of our collective defense
since the end of the Cold War."
The invasion shattered Europe's peace, and in response NATO has poured
troops and weapons into Eastern Europe on a scale unseen in decades. Member
nations have given Ukraine billions in military and civilian aid to strengthen
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who addressed the summit by video
link, asked for more. He urged NATO to send modern artillery systems and other
weapons and warned the leaders they either had to provide Kyiv with the help it
needed or "face a delayed war between Russia and yourself."
"The question is, who's next? Moldova? Or the Baltics? Or Poland? The answer
is: all of them," he said.
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.
U.S. President Joe Biden, whose country provides the bulk of NATO's
firepower, announced a hefty boost in America's military presence in Europe,
including a permanent U.S. base in Poland, two more Navy destroyers based in
Rota, Spain, and two more F35 squadrons in the U.K.
The expansion will keep 100,000 troops in Europe for the foreseeable future,
up from 80,000 before the war in Ukraine began.
Biden said Putin had believed NATO members would splinter after he invaded
Ukraine, but the Russian leader got the opposite response.
"You're gonna get the NATO-ization of Europe," Biden said. "And that's
exactly what he didn't want, but exactly what needs to be done to guarantee
security for Europe."
Still, strains among NATO allies have emerged as the cost of energy and
other essential goods has skyrocketed, partly because of the war and tough
Western sanctions on Russia. There also are tensions over how the war will end
and what, if any, concessions Ukraine should make.
Money remains a sensitive issue -- just nine of NATO's 30 members currently
meet the organization's target of spending 2% of gross domestic product on
Britain, one of the nine, announced a further 1 billion pounds ($1.21
billion) in military support to Ukraine on Thursday,
At what Stoltenberg called a "transformative" summit, the leaders published
NATO's new Strategic Concept, its once-a-decade set of priorities and goals.
The last such document, in 2010, called Russia a "strategic partner." Now,
NATO is accusing Russia of using "coercion, subversion, aggression and
annexation" to extend its reach.
The 2010 document made no mention of China, but the new one addressed
Bejing's growing economic and military reach.
"China is not our adversary, but we must be clear-eyed about the serious
challenges it represents," Stoltenberg said on Wednesday.
NATO said that China "strives to subvert the rules-based international
order, including in the space, cyber and maritime domains" and warned of its
close ties with Moscow.
The alliance said, however, that it remained "open to constructive
engagement" with Beijing.
China shot back that NATO was a source of instability and vowed to defend
"Since NATO positions China as a 'systemic challenge,' we have to pay close
attention and respond in a coordinated way. When it comes to acts that
undermine China's interests, we will make firm and strong responses," its