Berlin (AFP) – A senior NATO official said on Sunday that Russia is advancing militarily in Ukraine He seemed to falter and hoped that Kyiv could win the war, as Finland, neighboring Russia, announced that it wanted to join the Western military alliance.
Senior NATO diplomats are meeting Sunday in Berlin to discuss more support for Ukraine and moves by Finland, Sweden and other countries to join NATO in the face of threats from Russia.
“The brutal invasion of Russia is losing momentum,” NATO Deputy Secretary-General Mircea Giwana told reporters. “We know that with the courage of the Ukrainian people and army and with our help, Ukraine can win this war.”
Finland’s president and government announced on Sunday that the formerly neutral Scandinavian country that shares a long border with Russia intends to apply for membership in NATO, paving the way for the 30-member Western military alliance.
This was announced by President Sauli Niinisto and Prime Minister Sanna Marin at a joint press conference at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki.
“This is a historic day. A new era begins,” Niinistö said.
The decision is expected to be ratified by the Finnish parliament in the coming days, but it is considered a formality.
The official membership application will then be submitted to NATO headquarters in Brussels, most likely sometime next week.
Jiwana, who was chairing the meeting while NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg is recovering from COVID-19 infection, Ukraine’s supporters “are united, we are strong, and we will continue to help Ukraine win this war.”
One of the main issues being discussed in Berlin is the expansion of NATO beyond its current 30 member states.
Sweden has already taken steps Towards joining the alliance, while Georgia introduced Again, despite urgent warnings from Moscow about the consequences if its neighbor becomes part of NATO.
“Finland and Sweden are already the closest partners to NATO,” Giwana said, adding that he expected allies to view their requests favorably.
German Foreign Minister Annalena Barbock said her country and others made it clear during a dinner late Saturday that they were ready to speed up the national ratification process for Finland and Sweden.
“If these two countries decide to join, they can join very quickly,” she said.
The Foreign Minister of Denmark rejected the proposals by the objections of Russian President Vladimir Putin It can hinder the alliance from allowing new members.
“Every European country has a fundamental right to choose its own security arrangements,” Djebi Kofod told reporters.
“We now see a world where Putin is the number one enemy of democracy and the thinking he represents,” he said, adding that NATO would also stand with other countries, such as Georgia, which he said were “exploited” by Russia. .
On the sidelines of the meeting, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken met earlier Sunday with his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba to discuss the impact of the war and how to get Ukrainian grain to international markets.
State Department spokesman Ned Price said Blinken “emphasized the United States’ enduring commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of Russia’s unprovoked war.”
Britain’s top diplomat said NATO members would also discuss security issues outside Europe during their meeting on Sunday – a sign of growing concern among democracies about China’s rise.
“In addition to protecting Euro-Atlantic security, we also need to pay attention to the security of the Indo-Pacific,” said Secretary of State Liz Truss.
The meeting follows a meeting of foreign ministers from the Group of Seven major nations on Germany’s Baltic coast this week. Officials there expressed strong support for Ukraine and warned that the Russian blockade of grain exports from Ukrainian ports threatens to fuel the global food crisis..
Tanner reported from Helsinki. Associated Press diplomatic writer Matthew Lee contributed from Berlin.
Follow the AP’s coverage of the war at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine