MADRID (AP) — NATO has declared Russia the “most significant and direct threat” to its members’ peace and security. It vowed Wednesday to strengthen support for Ukraine, even as that country’s leader chided the alliance for not doing more to help it defeat Moscow.
The alliance’s condemnation was not wholly surprising. Its chief earlier said Russia’s war in Ukraine had created Europe’s biggest security crisis since World War II. But it was a sobering about-face for an organization that once called Moscow a strategic partner.
NATO held its annual summit in Madrid in a world transformed by Russia’s invasion.
The war pushed the alliance to pour troops and weapons into eastern Europe on a scale not seen since the Cold War and has driven a major overhaul of its defense.
US boosting military presence in Europe amid Russia threat
President Joe Biden says the U.S. is enhancing its military presence in Europe for the long haul to bolster regional security after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Biden outlined the plan during a meeting with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg at the alliance’s annual leaders’ summit in Madrid.
Biden says “NATO is strong and united.” He says steps taken at the summit will augment its “collective strength.”
Biden says the U.S. will establish a permanent headquarters in Poland and send two additional F-35 fighter jet squadrons to the United Kingdom.
The U.S. is also sending more air defense and other capabilities to Germany and Italy.
Russians fight to encircle Ukraine’s last eastern stronghold
KREMENCHUK, Ukraine (AP) — Russian forces are battling to surround the Ukrainian military’s last stronghold in a long-contested eastern province, as shock still reverberates from Monday’s Russian airstrike on a shopping mall that killed at least 18 people.
Moscow’s battle to wrest the entire Donbas region from Ukraine saw Russian forces pushing toward two Luhansk province villages south of the city of Lysychansk while Ukrainian troops fought to prevent their encirclement.
Meanwhile, search teams and relatives raced Wednesday to find people missing in the wreckage of the Amstor shopping center in the city of Kremenchuk.
Ukrainian authorities say 20 people remain missing. An official said the blast was so powerful that investigators have found only body parts of eight more victims.