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Ukraine Crisis

What is NATO and why do more European countries want to join?

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Since the end of World War II, NATO has stood as a force between the west and the east – keeping the Soviet Union at bay. But now it’s led to war in Ukraine.

It was meant to be a defensive pact, protecting European nations as the iron curtain came down across the continent as Stalin’s Soviet Union became a global power.

Nato stands for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization – it’s a military alliance formed in 1949 by 12 countries, including the US, UK, Canada and France.

NATO member states have grown since the end of the Soviet Union

Why become a member?

Membership of NATO is meant to protect a nation in the event of an armed attack – An attack on one would be an attack on all.

Originally NATO’s aim was to stand up to the threat of post war Russia, which was trying to expand across Europe.

After the Soviet Union’s collapse in 1991, a number of countries, formerly associated with the Soviet Union, joined NATO. 

But as Russia’s aggression under Vladimir Putin intensified, many more countries applied for NATO membership. That’s now seen as a strategic mistake.

Now US officials believe Sweden and Finland will bid for membership as soon as June. That would take NATO member states to 32.

But Russia sees this as an destabilising attack and has warned both countries against joining NATO.

NATO hasn’t sent soldiers to fight in Ukraine

NATO is growing

Russia fears NATO is encroaching on its area of political influence by taking on new members from eastern Europe.

But Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine has been described by the Pentagon as a “massive strategic blunder” – the unintended consequences of the Kremlin’s actions could be further growth of NATO.

Nato countries fear if their troops confront Russian forces in Ukraine, it could lead to an all-out conflict between Russia and the West – and then a global war.

Nato says its members are “determined to do all we can to support Ukraine,” but must ensure the war doesn’t escalate beyond Ukraine’s borders. 

One of Russia’s demands before the invasion was that Ukraine should never be allowed to join.

Ukraine’s President Zelensky accepts his country can’t join Nato right now. But that’s made no difference to Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

Ahron Young is an award winning journalist who has covered major news events around the world. Ahron is the Managing Editor and Founder of TICKER NEWS.

Ukraine Crisis

Biden & Johnson plans huge military build-up in Europe to counter Putin

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U.S. President Joe Biden announces increase in America’s military presence across Europe over threat from Vladimir Putin

It comes as tensions between Russia and the West remain tense over President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

There will now be a permanent U.S. army headquarters in Poland, with new warships on their way to Spain, fighter jets to the UK and even ground troops to Romania.

President Biden announces plans to bolster U.S. presence in Europe

Biden says the strategic alliance will be “strengthened in all directions across every domain – land, air and sea”.

NATO’s longstanding commitment to ‘defend every inch of its territory’ has been reaffirmed and Biden warns “an attack against one is an attack against all.”

The pledge from Biden includes more naval destroyers stationed in Spain, two F-35 fighter jet squadrons positioned in the United Kingdom and a permanent headquarters in Poland for the U.S. 5th Army Corps.

This increased force posture comes as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine drags on and countries in Europe grow increasingly nervous about the war on their continent.

“The United States and our allies, we’re going to step up,” Biden said the start of the NATO summit in Madrid.

“We’re proving that NATO is more needed now than it ever has been and it’s as important as it ever has been.”

The current location of 13 U.S. bases in Europe

U.S. presence grows

Since February, when Russia invaded Ukraine, the U.S. Department of Defense has increased the number of U.S. troops in Europe to more than 100,000 service members, up from 80,000.

Here’s what the U.S plans to do in each European country:

  • Poland: permanent station for the 5th Army Corps Headquarters Forward Command Post, an Army garrison headquarters, and a field support battalion, to allow the U.S. to more easily deploy combat troops along NATO’s eastern flank
  • Romania: position a rotational brigade combat team
  • The Baltic region: increase rotational deployments of armored, aviation, air defense, and special operations forces
  • Spain: increase the number of destroyers stationed at Rota from four to six
  • United Kingdom: station two squadrons of F-35 fighter jets.
  • Germany: forward-station an air defense artillery brigade headquarters, a short-range air defense battalion, a combat sustainment support battalion headquarters, and an engineer brigade headquarters
  • Italy: forward-station a short-range air defense battery

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Ukraine Crisis

Sean Penn visits President Zelensky in Kyiv

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Sean Penn is the latest celebrity to travel to Ukraine and meet with President Zelensky

Actor Sean Penn is reportedly creating a documentary on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

He is seeking to visit the war-torn areas where Russian troops have allegedly committed war crimes.

The leader thanked Penn for his support during the meeting. It comes a week after Zelensky met with Hollywood star Ben Stiller, who was visiting for humanitarian reasons.

“The whole world will soon be able to see the whole truth about the war thanks to his film. Sean, thank you for the support of our state and our people.”

UKRAINE’S PRESIDENT VOLODYMYR ZELENSKY

Meanwhile, fresh vision has emerged of a Russian missile strike on a crowded shopping mall in the country’s east.

It’s understood 18 people are dead, and dozens are still missing. Moscow says it struck a nearby arms depot and is claiming the mall was empty at the time.

The blast sent shockwaves around surrounding areas, where people can be seen running away from the areas of impact.

Meanwhile, President Zelensky is calling Russia a terrorist state. He urged his U.N. counterparts to stand up and pay their respects, as he dialled in for urgent talks.

“Who of you does not agree that this is terrorism?”

UKRAINE’S PRESIDENT VOLODYMYR ZELENSKY

Zelensky named victims of the war, including a three-month-old. He also drew on the U.N. Charter for maintaining international peace and security.

Meanwhile, Russia’s representatives expressed concern about President Zelensky’s speech. Dmitry Polyanskiy says he did not receive any consultation beforehand.

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Ukraine Crisis

Finland and Sweden one step closer to NATO membership as Turkey agrees

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Finland and Sweden are one step closer to NATO membership after Turkey officially agrees to support their nominations

Turkey has officially agreed to support Finland and Sweden’s NATO membership applications, paving the way for the two Nordic nations to join the strategic alliance. 

Lifting its veto, Turkey has now ended a weeks-long debate which has tested Western unity over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

Finland’s President says the breakthrough comes after the three nations signed a joint memorandum to extend support against threats to each other’s security. 

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg says the memorandum addresses Turkey’s concerns.

FILE PHOTO: NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaks during a news conference on the eve of a NATO summit, amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, in Brussels, Belgium March 23, 2022. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes/File Photo

“I am pleased to announce that we now have an agreement that paves the way for Finland and Sweden to join NATO,” he told reporters at the NATO summit in Madrid.

“Turkey, Finland and Sweden have signed a memorandum that addresses Turkey’s concerns, including around arms exports and the fight against terrorism,”

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg

This all happened just hours before a NATO summit began in Madrid, with leaders hoping to display unity in the face of Russian aggression. 

Finland and Sweden’s application to join the nuclear-armed alliance is the biggest shift in European security in decades. 

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressed the leaders of the G7 nations on Monday, pressing them for more heavy weaponry and help to end the war before winter sets in.

It comes as Russia defaults on debt for the first time in a century.

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