Britain Announces New Russia Sanctions List That Includes Potanin And Putin’s

Turkey has agreed to lift its opposition to NATO membership bids filed by Finland and Sweden in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Finnish President Sauli Niinisto said the breakthrough came after he and Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met on June 28 ahead of a NATO summit in Madrid and signed a joint memorandum “to extend their full support against threats to each other’s security.”

The memorandum “confirms that [Turkey] will at the Madrid Summit this week support the invitation of Finland and Sweden to become members of NATO,” Niinisto said on Twitter.

“The concrete steps of our accession to NATO will be agreed by the NATO allies during the next two days, but that decision is now imminent,” Niinisto said in a press release.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and Turkey’s presidency confirmed the accord in separate statements.

The agreement “sends a clear message to President Putin: NATO’s door is open,” Stoltenberg said at a press conference, referring to the Russian president, whose ardent opposition to Ukraine’s desire to join NATO was a pretext for his decision to invade Ukraine in February.

The invasion raised fears in Finland and Sweden about Russian aggression, prompting them to seek to join the Western alliance, and once they are formally accepted as members, Finland’s long border with Russia means the Russian-NATO border will expand dramatically.

Stoltenberg said NATO’s 30 members would now invite Finland and Sweden to join NATO and that they would become official “invitees.” The parliaments of the NATO countries must ratify the decision, a process that could take up to a year.

Finland and Sweden last month moved to abandon their nonaligned status and applied to join the military alliance, but their bids were held back by Turkey, which has accused both nations, particularly Sweden, of offering a safe haven to Kurdish militants who have been waging an insurgency against the Turkish state.

The issue threatened to cloud the summit and its attempt to proclaim unity among NATO members in the face of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.

Under the terms of the deal, Sweden will intensify work on Turkey’s requests for the extradition of suspected Kurdish militants, Stoltenberg said. Sweden and Finland also will amend their laws to toughen their approach to Kurdish militants from the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and will lift their restrictions on selling weapons to Turkey.

The Turkish presidency statement said the agreement meant “full cooperation with Turkey in the fight against the PKK and its affiliates.”

It also said Sweden and Finland were “demonstrating solidarity with Turkey in the fight against terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.”

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Twitter: “Fantastic news as we kick off the NATO summit. Sweden and Finland’s membership will make our brilliant alliance stronger and safer.”

The NATO summit is expected to be one of the most important summits of the Western alliance in recent years amid Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.

Stoltenberg said earlier that the three-day summit will agree a new assistance package for Ukraine in areas “like secure communications, anti-drone systems, and fuel.”

Stoltenberg said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has sparked a “fundamental shift” in NATO’s approach to defense, and member states will have to boost their military spending.

The meeting will chart a blueprint for the alliance “in a more dangerous and unpredictable world,” he said.

Strengthening defenses against Russia and supporting Ukraine top the agenda of the meeting, which Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy is due to address virtually.

Live Briefing: Russia’s Invasion Of Ukraine

RFE/RL’s Live Briefing gives you all of the latest developments on Russia’s ongoing invasion, how Kyiv is fighting back, the plight of civilians and refugees, and Western aid and reaction. For all of RFE/RL’s coverage of the war, click here.

The United States and Spain issued a joint declaration ahead of the summit, condemning Russia for invading Ukraine. The declaration, which came after U.S. President Joe Biden met with Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, said the invasion “fundamentally altered the global strategic environment.”

The declaration emphasized the two countries’ defense partnership through NATO and said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine “constitutes the most direct threat to transatlantic security and global stability since the end of the Cold War.”

The summit will also change language dating back to 2010 describing Russia as a strategic partner.

“That will not be the case in the strategic concept that we will agree in Madrid,” Stoltenberg said.

“I expect that allies will…

Read More: Britain Announces New Russia Sanctions List That Includes Potanin And Putin’s

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