BET À DAY
The war in Ukraine was the focus of a NATO summit in Madrid on Wednesday, where leaders of member states are meeting to discuss the future of the Atlantic Alliance, which Sweden and Finland will be able to join after the lifting of the Turkish veto.
NATO is experiencing “its most serious security crisis since the Second World War”, declared the organization's secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, before opening the debates.
During this summit, notably intended to revise the Alliance's roadmap for the first time since 2010, “we will make it clear that Russia poses a direct threat to our security,” he added.
NATO countries will approve in Madrid a reinforcement of their forces on the eastern flank of the Alliance and decide to increase the number of their high readiness forces “well above” 300,000 soldiers.
“This is the most important overhaul of our collective defense since the Cold War,” said Mr. Stoltenberg.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will speak twice Wednesday morning by videoconference at the summit , while kyiv continues to demand more arms deliveries from its partners.
NATO countries, which have already provided billions of dollars in aid to Kyiv, will agree in Madrid “on a comprehensive program of assistance to Ukraine to help it enforce its right to legitimate defence,” Jens Stoltenberg promised on Tuesday.
“NATO has supported Ukraine since the beginning” of the conflict “and will continue” to do so, Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo insisted on Wednesday. believing that “war” could only be won “on the battlefield”.
Norway announced on Wednesday the dispatch of three batteries of MLRS long-range rocket launchers, which Ukraine demands to counter the Russian army. On Tuesday, the German and Dutch defense ministers announced the delivery of six additional howitzers.
Russian President Vladimir Putin “expected less NATO on his western front following his illegal invasion of Ukraine”, but “he was completely wrong”: “he is getting more NATO”, judged British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
End of the Turkish veto
Beyond Ukraine, NATO will for the first time address in its new roadmap, called the “Strategic Concept”, the challenges posed by China to the “values” and “interests” of the Alliance.  ;
“China is not an adversary, but we must consider the consequences for our security when we see China investing heavily in new military equipment” and trying to “control” “ essential infrastructure such as 5G networks,” assured Jens Stoltenberg.
This summit will also be an opportunity to launch the accession process for Finland and Sweden, which decided to join NATO in reaction to the offensive launched by Russia in Ukraine on 24 February, breaking with a long tradition of military non-alignment.
This membership has until now been blocked by Turkey, a NATO member since 1952, which accused Stockholm and Helsinki in particular of harboring militants of the Kurdish organization PKK, which Ankara considers “terrorist”.
But after long negotiations, Turkey gave its agreement on Tuesday evening to the entry into NATO of these two Nordic countries, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan having estimated that he had obtained their “full cooperation” in his fight against the PKK. .
This agreement, signed in front of the cameras, allows the NATO countries to display their unity, even if the formal entry of the two countries, which must be ratified by the parliaments of the 30 Member States of the Alliance, is a long process that will take several months.
This NATO summit comes as Ukraine continues to pay a heavy price on the ground: the Ukrainian authorities thus reported on Tuesday several deadly strikes against civilians, in particular in Lyssytchansk, in the strategic Donbass basin (east ).
The strikes came a day after an attack ripped through a crowded shopping center in Kremenchuk, 330 kilometers southeast of kyiv, leaving at least 18 people dead and around 40 missing, according to the Ukrainian government.
During a live intervention on Tuesday evening before the UN Security Council, Volodymyr Zelensky asked for a commission of inquiry to be sent and demanded that Russia be expelled from its permanent seat, denouncing “one of the most shameless acts of terrorism in European history”.
“The cycle of death, of destruction must end. For the good of Ukraine, Russia and the whole world”, pleaded for her part the UN Under-Secretary General for Political Affairs, Rosemary DiCarlo.
Moscow, which has claimed since the start of the war to want to “demilitarize” and “denazify” its neighbor, however on Tuesday ruled out interrupting its offensive until Ukraine capitulated.
Despite the some advances by Russian troops on the ground in recent days, British Defense Minister Ben Wallace said on Wednesday that Russia had “failed on all its major objectives”.
Russian troops are not making progress only “a few hundred meters over several days”, for a “massive cost” for Moscow, he assured in an interview with LBC radio, estimating at “25,000” the number of soldiers killed on the Russian side since the beginning of the conflict.
A balance sheet attributed by Boris Johnson to the “male toxicity” of Vladimir Putin. “If Putin was a woman, (…) I really don't think he would have embarked on this crazy macho war,” said the British Prime Minister in an interview with the German television channel ZDF.