NATO Countries Urge Stronger Action Against Russia at Summit

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Ukraine, along with its staunchest advocates within NATO, is voicing its discontent that the alliance could be more proactive in dealing with Russia. This sentiment comes as the focus at the NATO summit in Washington is predominantly on curbing the actions of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, along with leaders from nations bordering Russia, has cautioned the alliance against softening its stance, setting unnecessary limits, and hesitating to make firm commitments to deter and counteract Russian hostilities in Ukraine and its neighboring states.

A primary issue being raised is urging President Biden to remove restrictions that prevent the usage of U.S. and allied-supplied weaponry for strikes against military objectives as much as 300 miles within Russia. Previously, in May, Biden authorized Ukraine to conduct operations near Kharkiv, inside Russia.

President Zelensky, during a discussion at the Reagan Institute in Washington on a Tuesday evening, highlighted the pivotal defensive role such weaponry could play. “If we can use it on the territory of Russia, especially on these military targets, we can protect civilians, hospitals, schools, children,” Zelensky said.

However, he added, “But we can’t. Somebody, except us, has to say yes.”

The urgency of these demands came into sharp relief following a Russian missile strike on a children’s hospital in Kyiv. This attack, part of a broader offensive throughout Ukraine this week, resulted in over 300 injuries, including eight children, and caused two deaths, including a young doctor. Images from the scene showed medical personnel stained with blood and volunteers clearing debris to rescue those trapped below, as pediatric cancer patients waited outside connected to medical equipment.

NATO officials from countries close to Russia consider these attacks a deliberate demonstration of Russia’s disregard for international norms.

“While allies have come together to offer new military and financial support for Kyiv after considerable deliberation, countries on Russia’s doorstep insist that the alliance must step up its efforts,” said leaders from these nations. They expressed frustration with delays in U.S. Congress over aid for Ukraine, pushed for more assertive language on Ukraine’s NATO admission process, advocated for tripling financial support for Kyiv, and urged confronting Russian subversive activities against NATO territories directly.

Allegations from Baltic nations have been surfacing for months about Russian-sponsored destabilization acts, including GPS interference, border demarcation disruptions, cyber attacks on hospitals, and targeting of political dissidents.

Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen questioned whether NATO countries are prepared to continue tolerating these aggressions, emphasizing that daily attacks using various methods are happening in Europe.

In a show of responsiveness to these critiques, the alliance’s recent summit declaration included a promise to “develop” strategies against Russian hybrid threats by the next summit.

In sum, NATO members agreed on supplying further weapons and financial assistance to Ukraine, committing over $43 billion through 2025, and described Ukraine’s path to NATO membership as “irreversible” despite not offering immediate membership to avoid provoking Putin.

Latvian President Edgars Rinkēvičs criticized the six-month delay by U.S. Congress in approving over $60 billion in assistance, urging the removal of limitations on Ukraine’s military capabilities, especially their ability to strike inside Russia.

Looking ahead to the U.S. political landscape, concerns loom over the potential return of former President Trump, his previous threats concerning NATO, and the continuity of support for Ukraine.

NATO is proactively ensuring sustained support for Ukraine, moving coordination of arms donations and training under its umbrella, and establishing a NATO civilian outpost in Kyak.

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