Stoltenberg urges Putin to ‘end this war immediately’ as summit closes

Madrid, Jun 30 (EFE).- Nato secretary general Jens Stoltenberg on Thursday urged Russian president Vladimir Putin to put an immediate end to the war in Ukraine.

“President Putin should withdraw (his) forces and end this war immediately by stopping attacking a democratic and sovereign nation and causing so much suffering in Ukraine,” Stoltenberg said at a press conference at the conclusion of a summit in Madrid.

His remarks came after Putin said Sweden and Finland’s accession to Nato represented a threat to Russia.

“If military contingents and infrastructure are deployed there, we will have to give a tit-for-tat response and create the same threats to the territories from where threats are posed toward us,” the Russian president said, adding that relations with the two Nordic states would suffer as a result of them joining the alliance.

“Everything was fine between us, but now there might be some tensions,” he said. “It’s inevitable if there is a threat to us.”

Stoltenberg said that, as sovereign nations, Sweden and Finland were “free to choose their own path” and said they would be warmly welcomed into the alliance.

“But we are of course prepared for any eventuality,” he said, pointing out that Moscow had sent mixed messages when it came to Helsinki and Stockholm — Russia has claimed that their accession would not make much difference to their relations, while also saying that the Kremlin would consider their Nato membership a threat.

“They have communicated different messages on that issue,” Stoltenberg said. “But the most important thing for us is that Finland and Sweden will become members of the alliance. We are there to protect all allies, and we are prepared for all eventualities.”

Stoltenberg also said the summit had yielded a deal among members on a trajectory for common funding for the next eight years.

“The agreement represents a considerable, significant increase in Nato’s common funded budget and that will enable us to invest more together” in military equipment and infrastructure.

The Nato chief also discussed the autonomous Spanish cities of Ceuta and Melilla, pointing out that the alliance “is there to protect all allies against any threat.”

At the Madrid summit, Nato approved a new strategy for the next decade in which it has moved to consider Russia as its main threat, while warning that China poses a “challenge” to its values.

“We addressed how Russia and China continue to seek political, economic and military gain across our southern neighborhood. Both Moscow and Beijing are using economic leverage, coercion and hybrid approaches to advance their interests in the region,” Stoltenberg said. EFE


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