EU hikes military aid for Ukraine as Sweden edges to Nato membership

EU hikes military aid for Ukraine as Sweden edges to Nato membership

WANGELS: Europe pledged another half billion dollars in military support for Kyiv on Friday and Sweden edged closer to joining Nato as the war in Ukraine entered its 12th week.

At a meeting of the world’s most powerful democracies, European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell promised Ukraine an extra 500 million euros ($520 million), bringing the bloc’s total military aid to two billion euros. “The recipe is clear — more of the same,” Borrell said.

“More pressure on Russia, with economic sanctions. Continue working on international isolation of Russia. Countering the disinformation about the consequences of the war… And presenting a united front to continue supporting Ukraine.” Borrell joined Group of Seven foreign ministers in the German sea resort of Wangels, where they conferred with counterparts from Ukraine and Moldova.

“It is very important at this time that we keep up the pressure on Vladimir Putin by supplying more weapons to Ukraine, by increasing the sanctions,” British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said.

President Putin invaded Russia’s neighbour on February 24, unleashing a worldwide shock that has resounded in northern and eastern Europe.

Finland’s leaders on Thursday recommended their country ditch a decades-long posture of neutrality and join Nato as soon as possible.

In Sweden, a security policy review by parliamentary parties on Friday highlighted the advantage of becoming a member of the alliance.

“Swedish Nato membership would raise the threshold for military conflicts and thus have a deterrent effect in northern Europe,” it said.

“Within the framework of current cooperation, there is no guarantee that Sweden would be helped if it were the target of a serious threat or attack,” it said.

The report stopped short of offering a concrete recommendation, although expectations are high Sweden will follow Finland when the government announces its decisions in coming days.

But a potential hurdle was thrown up by Turkey, a Nato member.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose country is part of Nato, said he did not have a “positive opinion” on the two countries’ membership.

“Scandinavian countries are like a guesthouse for terror organisations,” he said after Friday prayers in Istanbul.

Turkey has long accused Nordic countries, especially Sweden, of harbouring extremist Kurdish groups and supporters of Fethullah Gulen, a US-based preacher wanted over a failed coup in 2016.

Published in Dawn, May 14th, 2022

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