NATO moved some of its troops on Friday in order to be able to react swiftly if needed, as Russian invasion on Ukraine continued cruelly and Western countries and alliances enforce tougher sanctions on Moscow.
NATO is engaging units of the rapid reaction NATO Response Force (NRF) on land, at sea, and in the air to react quickly to any contingency, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg disclosed, as Russian continued its attack on Ukraine.
He did not initially disclose where the troops would be engaged, in remarks that followed a video conference with NATO leaders, but dpa learned that ground troops could be sent to Romania. Meanwhile NRF units are to head to Norway, for an exercise, in the first deployment of parts of the NRF in the course of deterrence and defence of the alliance area, Stoltenberg said.
The NATO members stated that the measures were “preventive, proportionate, and non-escalatory” in a press release. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz informed the emergency summit that the eastern members of the alliance requires more troops following Russia’s attack on Ukraine.
As he spoke, the first British soldiers and trucks carrying additional equipment reached Estonia to strengthen the NATO battalion there.
London is set to deploy 850 soldiers and equipment to Estonia, roughly doubling the British troops there.
Other NATO members also declared new deployments to strengthen the Western military alliance.
Italy stated that it was making around 3,400 additional soldiers available on the alliance’s eastern flank, while Denmark declared it was prepared to contribute 20 more F-16 fighter jets to help secure NATO airspace.
Also on Friday, Russia prohibited British aircraft from using its airspace, in a similar response a day after London banned Russia’s Aeroflot airline from flying to Britain.
Poland and the Czech Republic also followed up later by stating they would also close airspace to Russian planes.
Friday also saw Western countries enforce tougher sanctions amid Moscow’s relentless attacks.
Washington was the latest to declare sanctions aiming Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, on Friday after penalties enforced on the two earlier by Britain and the European Union in response to Moscow’s invasion.
Russia reacted by criticizing the penalties on Putin and Lavrov, criticizing these as a symbol of weak foreign policy.
In further efforts to end hostilities, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) formally ended Russia’s accession negotiations, it revealed in a statement.
The organization noted it would continue to reconsider its co-operation with Russia in the days and weeks ahead, while also considering how to better support the Ukrainian government.
The decision came after the 47-country Council of Europe, Europe’s human rights monitored the suspension of Russia with immediate effect.
Individual countries also adopted their own measures, with the Spanish government retreat the country’s ambassador to Ukraine.
The pro-Russian president of Serbia, Alexander Vucic, has been critical of the Russian attack on Ukraine.
“We consider it a grave mistake to violate the territorial integrity of a country like Ukraine,” Vucic said in Belgrade on Friday evening.
At the same time, he stated that his country would not be imposing penalties on Moscow.
Ambassador Silvia Cortés will be taken to Poland in a convoy of vehicles along with about 100 other Spanish citizens, Foreign Minister José Manuel Albares informed Spanish media on Friday.
The attack has opened the eyes of many EU states, according to Latvia’s prime minister Krisjanis Karins, who stated that a period of naivety had come to an end, in comments to Latvian news agency Leta.
“Many European countries have lived under the illusion that everything can be negotiated if they find the right words to say to Putin and if they are patient,” Karins said, citing the Baltic states’ long-standing admonitions to its EU and NATO partners.
But with a “brutal war” unfolding in Ukraine, Karins said, the same countries now understand that these were only false hopes.
“For a long time, the world did not want to accept the obvious. Now everything has changed.
“Putin has lost all trust and support within the democratic world,” Karins said.
At the close of the day, U.S. President Joe Biden emphasized Washington’s support for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
“I commended the brave actions of the Ukrainian people who were fighting to defend their country,” Biden said in a statement following their call.
“I also conveyed ongoing economic, humanitarian, and security support being provided by the United States as well as our continued efforts to rally other countries to provide similar assistance,” U.S. President Joe Biden promised Zelensky.
Washington also declined Russian offers of talks with Ukraine.
“Diplomacy by the barrel of a gun, coercive diplomacy, is not something that we are going to take part in,” U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price said, noting that this would not aid peace efforts in a real, genuine and sustainable way.
Diplomacy cannot succeed in a context where “you rain down bombs, mortar shells” and “your tanks advance towards a capital of 2.9 million people,” he said.
Meanwhile people worldwide took to the streets to express their support for Ukraine.
Buildings and monuments were lit up in the blue and yellow colours of the Ukrainian flag.
In Germany, rallies were declared for the weekend in cities including Berlin.
In Stockholm, Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg expressed her support during Friday’s climate protest.
Along with others, the 19-year-old stood in front of the Russian embassy.
She held a small sign in the blue and yellow national colours with the inscription “Stand with Ukraine” in her hand.