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Ukraine news – live: ‘New Iron Curtain’ as Nato ups troop presence in eastern Europe

Putin ‘will not win,’ Spanish prime minister says

Moment Russian missile hits Ukrainian shopping centre

A new Iron Curtain will be formed in Europe by Nato to reinforce the continent’s own borders and protect countries from Russia.

The allies are also set to increase their troop presence in the Nordic region, holding more military exercises and naval patrols in the Baltic Sea to reassure Sweden and Finland.

“We are sending a strong message to (Russian president Vladimir) Putin: ‘you will not win’,” Spanish prime minister Pedro Sanchez said in a speech.

Allies also agreed on Nato’s first new strategic concept - its master planning document - in a decade.

Meanwhile, president Volodymyr Zelensky lamented that Nato’s open-door policy to Sweden and Finland did not appear to apply Ukraine.

Addressing the Madrid summit via video link, Mr Zelensky said: “The open-door policy of Nato shouldn’t resemble the old turnstiles on Kyiv’s subway, which stay open but close when you approach them until you pay.

“Hasn’t Ukraine paid enough?”He asked for more modern artillery systems and anti-missile systems to defeat Russia or “face a delayed war between Russia and yourself.”

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UK aircraft could secure shipping route for Ukraine’s grain, says defence secretary

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has suggested British surveillance aircraft could help secure shipping routes to release Ukraine’s trapped grain.

He told reporters at the Nato summit in Madrid that Rivet Joint or P8 Poseidon aircraft could patrol areas of the Black Sea if a deal was done to allow grain ships to leave Ukraine’s blockaded ports.

Mr Wallace said that Ukraine’s ports only had the capacity to shift three tonnes of grain a month and there was a 23-tonne backlog so a limited ceasefire would not have a major impact.

He said: “We have to put this in perspective, even when Ukraine is at full throttle in its ports, it’s about three million tonnes a month. They have 23 million tonnes to ship.

“So you’ve got to sort of manage the expectations. If there’s a ceasefire on the Black Sea or there’s a safe passage, it’s not going to be like ‘oh, you can have it for six weeks, isn’t it generous of Russia’. I mean, you’re going to get out not very much in exchange.

“What the Turks are trying to do is - with the UN - hammer out details with the Russians about doing it. This is first and foremost about getting Ukrainian grain out of Ukraine.

“It’s not about helping stolen grain, allowing Russian ships with stolen grain out of the Black Sea, because the Ukrainians won’t buy that and they are not going to lift things for that.

“So we have to see what we could do. Britain’s role in that could be ISR (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance), we could help in overwatch, we could help in Rivet Joint, P8s down in the southern part of the Black Sea to protect.

“The Turks have got it pretty covered on mine hunting. We know the disposition of the minefields. So I think all of those things are definitely possible.

“But we’re not going to be sending our ships to the Black Sea because that would mean we would ask the Turks to lift the blockade on foreign warships or warships from other fleets.”

That would “benefit the Russians who would be able to resupply or bring in another Moskva” - a reference to the Black Sea fleet flagship sunk by the Ukrainians.

Aisha Rimi29 June 2022 17:15
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PM: Invitation for Sweden and Finland to join Nato a ‘great step forward’ for the alliance

Following a meeting with Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson and Finnish President Sauli Niinisto at the Nato summit in Madrid, a Downing Street spokesman said: “The Prime Minister reiterated his staunch support for Sweden and Finland’s Nato membership aspirations.

“He described their accession as a great step forward for Nato and welcomed the progress made since his visits to Sweden and Finland last month.

“The Prime Minister said that the membership of two more pro-peace democracies will permanently strengthen our defensive alliance, helping to keep us all safe.

“The Prime Minister updated on his recent visit to Kyiv. The leaders discussed the need to oppose Russian threats and intimidation in all its guises.

“That includes by ensuring that the people of Ukraine have the tools they need to turn the tide in Putin’s futile war of aggression - they agreed that (Vladimir) Putin is offering Ukraine no other option.”

Aisha Rimi29 June 2022 17:02
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Russian minister calls Nato expansion to include Finland and Sweden ‘destabilising’

The expansion of Nato following the alliance’s invitation to Finland and Sweden to become members has been viewed “negatively” by Russian ministers.

Kremlin’s deputy foreign minister, Sergei Ryabkov, was quoted by Russian state news agency RIA as saying that a growing Nato is “destablising”.

He added that more members in the alliance does not add to the security of the nations.

Maryam Zakir-Hussain has the full story:

Russian minister calls Nato expansion to include Finland and Sweden ‘destabilising’

The Russian government also claimed there would be ‘far reaching consequences’ for Helsinki and Stockholm

Aisha Rimi29 June 2022 16:24
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Russia threatens retaliation against Norway over access to Arctic islands

Russia said on Wednesday that restrictions imposed by Norway were blocking goods for Russian-populated settlements on the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard, and threatened unspecified “retaliatory measures” unless Oslo resolves the issue.

Svalbard, midway between Norway’s north coast and the North Pole, is part of Norway, but Russia has the right to exploit the archipelago’s natural resources under a treaty signed in 1920, and some settlements there are populated mainly by Russians.

Norway, which is not in the EU but applies EU sanctions against Russia, has said sanctions would not affect the transport of goods by ship to Svalbard. But much of the freight for the archipelago’s Russian settlements passes first through a checkpoint into mainland Norway, which is closed to sanctioned goods.

The Russian foreign ministry said it had summoned Norway’s chargé d’affaires to protest against the restrictions, which it said have disrupted the delivery of critical supplies, including food and medical equipment.

Calling the situation “unacceptable”, it warned that “unfriendly” actions against Russia would lead to “retaliatory measures”.

The Norwegian foreign ministry was not immediately available to comment on the issue when contacted by Reuters.

Since invading Ukraine in February, Russia has been hit with sanctions restricting the transit of its goods through Europe. This month Lithuania began enforcing restrictions on some goods shipped by rail to Russia‘s Baltic Sea exclave of Kaliningrad.

Russia, which calls its actions in Ukraine a “special military operation” says those restrictions amount to a “blockade”, and has promised unspecified retaliation.

Maryam Zakir-Hussain29 June 2022 16:08
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Kyiv welcomes NATO's 'clear-eyed stance' on Russia

Ukraine praised NATO on Wednesday for taking a “clear-eyed stance” on Russia and for inviting Finland and Sweden to join the military alliance, and called for an “equally strong and active position on Ukraine“ to protect Euro-Atlantic security.

“Today in Madrid, NATO proved it can take difficult, but essential decisions,” Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba wrote on Twitter.

“We welcome a clear-eyed stance on Russia, as well as accession for Finland and Sweden. An equally strong and active position on Ukraine will help to protect the Euro-Atlantic security and stability.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in a video address to the NATO summit in Madrid that his country needed more advanced weapons and money to defend itself against Russia following its invasion on Feb. 24.

NATO leaders agreed at the summit to formally treat Russia as the “most significant and direct threat to the allies’ security”, according to a summit statement.

Andriy Yermak, chief of the Ukrainian presidential staff, welcomed the message NATO had sent on Russia.

“Russia will not defeat Ukraine - Russia is going to be defeated. That’s the message @NATO member states repeatedly emphasize at the summit. Ukraine and its allies must win this battle for democracy,” he wrote on Twitter.

Maryam Zakir-Hussain29 June 2022 15:43
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New Iron Curtain in Europe as Nato reinforces troops

A new Iron Curtain will be formed in Europe by Nato to reinforce the continent’s own borders and protect countries from Russia.

The allies are also set to increase their troop presence in the Nordic region, holding more military exercises and naval patrols in the Baltic Sea to reassure Sweden and Finland.

“We are sending a strong message to (Russian President Vladimir) Putin: ‘you will not win’,” Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said in a speech.

Allies also agreed on Nato’s first new strategic concept - its master planning document - in a decade. Russia, previously classed as a strategic partner of Nato, is now identified as Nato’s main threat.

Maryam Zakir-Hussain29 June 2022 15:25
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Leaves a bad taste: Russian salad served at Nato summit

International officials and journalists at the Nato summit in Madrid were surprised to find a Russian salad being served on the in-house restaurant menu.

“Russian salad at a Nato summit? I’m a little surprised by that choice of dish,” journalist Iñaki López told Spanish media outlet La Sexta.

The mix of peas, potatoes, carrots and mayonnaise is a staple on Spanish restaurant menus.

But, its presence on a menu ahead of a summit dominated by the consequences of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine seemed a little distasteful.

Leaves a bad taste: Russian salad served at Nato summit

Eyebrows were raised at the controversial choice of starters

Maryam Zakir-Hussain29 June 2022 15:15
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Nato agrees 300,000 troop surge plan, and accepts two new members

Nato allies are prepared to support Ukraine “for as long as it takes”, secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg said on Wednesday as he announced additional military support for Kyiv.

In an official communique, the leaders agreed a plan to put 300,000 on high alert (from 40,000) as part of the Nato Response Force.

It will involve more troops going into eastern Europe, where battlegroups will be “scaled up to brigade-size units”.

Stoltenberg said leaders had also agreed a new package of support for Ukraine, including secure communications, fuel, medical supplies, and hundreds of anti-drone systems.

Officials have said that the plan should be in place by 2023, but there is no indication yet how many troops each country will provide. Details will be worked in the months ahead.

Asked about president Volodymr Zelensky’s call for Nato membership for Ukraine, Stoltenberg said: “Nato’s door remains open.”

On spending commitments, Stoltenberg said five members have now hit 2 per cent of GDP target, 19 members have clear plans to reach the target by 2024 and another five have pledged to meet it at some point afterwards.

Maryam Zakir-Hussain29 June 2022 15:00
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Syria officially recognises independence and sovereignty of self-declared breakaway territories of Donetsk and Luhansk in Ukraine

Syria officially recognises independence and sovereignty of self-declared breakaway territories of Donetsk and Luhansk in Ukraine, a state news agency quoting a foreign ministry source reported.

Updates to follow.

Maryam Zakir-Hussain29 June 2022 14:44
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‘Haven’t we paid enough?’ Zelensky urges Nato to consider Ukraine membership

President Volodymyr Zelensky lamented that NATO’s open-door policy to new members (Sweden and Finland) did not appear to apply Ukraine.

“The open-door policy of NATO shouldn’t resemble the old turnstiles on Kyiv’s subway, which stay open but close when you approach them until you pay,” Zelensky said by video link to the leaders in Madrid.

“Hasn’t Ukraine paid enough?”He asked for more modern artillery systems and anti-missile systems to defeat Russia or “face a delayed war between Russia and yourself.”

He told the leaders: “You can completely break Russia’s tactics to destroy cities and terrorise civilians.”

Maryam Zakir-Hussain29 June 2022 14:18

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