Leaders of NATO countries and other allies are set to gather in Madrid on Tuesday, with the main topics of the discussion likely to be Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and China’s growing international ambitions.
Members are expected to agree to stockpile weapons and equipment in Eastern Europe and the Baltic States, and to dramatically increase the number of troops based in those regions. There will also be more support for Ukraine to upgrade its military, which still uses mostly Soviet-era equipment.
The alliance is seeking to assist Kyiv without having a direct confrontation with Russia, which is one of the reasons why Ukraine is still not a part of the group despite being on a path to membership since 2008.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is scheduled to address the summit by video call. He has acknowledged that joining NATO in the near future is unlikely, and is instead focusing on seeking membership in the European Union.
The leaders of Japan, Australia, South Korea and New Zealand have been invited as guests to the summit for the first time. All four have been supportive of Ukraine, but are also attending due to increased concerns about China’s military presence in the Pacific.
Turkey blocking Nordic accession bids
Also on Tuesday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is due to meet with Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson and Finnish President Sauli Niinisto to discuss the stalled Swedish and Finnish bids to join the alliance.
Erdogan is currently blocking both bids over accusations that the two Nordic countries are supporting the Kurdistan Workers’ Party and the YPG, a Kurdish militia based in Syria.
Ankara, which has at times engaged in armed conflict with Kurdish independence movements, has classified both as terrorist groups.
Sweden and Finland have disputed Erdogan’s claims. After decades of demurring, both countries are seeking NATO membership over concerns about Russia’s aggression.
es/fb (AP, dpa)