NATO wants to strengthen the eastern flank and expand in the north. Russian President Putin announces a military response and accuses the West of imperialism. Chancellor Scholz finds clear words for this.

After the NATO summit, a new arms race between the West and Russia is looming. Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin announced that he would react to the possible deployment of NATO soldiers to Finland with troop deployments himself.

At its two-day summit in Madrid, NATO for its part decided to significantly strengthen the eastern flank and to start the process of admitting Finland and Sweden.

Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz gave a gloomy description of the security situation in view of the Russian war against Ukraine: “With its aggressive policy, Russia is again a threat to Europe, to the Alliance,” said the SPD politician at the end of the summit meeting in the Spanish capital. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg expressed similar concerns. “We are dealing with the most serious security situation in decades,” said the Norwegian, referring to the Ukraine war, but also to China’s perceived aggressive policy. However, both also emphasized that they consider NATO to be prepared for the challenges.

The 30 alliance states had previously decided on a new armed forces model. According to Stoltenberg, this envisages increasing the number of soldiers on high operational readiness from 40,000 to more than 300,000. In addition, more heavy weapons are being transferred, especially to the Baltic States and Poland. In addition, after weeks of a blockade by Turkey, Finland and Sweden are preparing to join NATO. The meeting in Madrid marked the end of an eight-day summit marathon between the EU, G7 and NATO.

Russia wants to react to troop stationing in the north

Although Putin sees no threat to Russia in NATO’s northern expansion, he has promised a military response. “If troops are stationed there and infrastructure is set up, we will have to respond in a mirrored manner and create the same threats on the territory from which we are being threatened,” Putin said, according to the TASS agency. “Everything was good between us, but now there will be some tension – that’s obvious, without a doubt, it can’t be done without.”

Scholz calls Putin’s accusation of imperialism “ridiculous”

Tensions between NATO and Russia are already at their highest since the Cold War. Putin accused the leading members of the alliance of wanting to assert themselves with the help of Ukraine. NATO is about “its supremacy, its imperial ambitions”.

Chancellor Scholz rejected this accusation harshly: “To be honest, that’s pretty ridiculous,” he said. NATO is a defensive alliance, does not attack other countries and does not pose a threat to anyone in the neighborhood. “In fact, it is Putin who has made imperialism the goal of his policies and the object of his policies.”

NATO wants to make decisions on expansion next week

Next Tuesday, the alliance wants to formally decide on the admission of Sweden and Finland by signing the accession protocols. Then they have to be ratified by the 30 member states. It is estimated that this could take six to eight months.

Under the impression of the Russian attack on Ukraine, the two Nordic countries had decided to give up their decades of neutrality and join NATO. The NATO border with Russia is thus extended by more than 1,300 kilometers.

Biden: Will support Ukraine for as long as necessary

Ukraine, which has been attacked by Russia, can count on the help of the NATO countries in the long term. “We will support Ukraine for as long as it takes,” said US President Joe Biden in Madrid. The US and the other allies would stand by Ukraine to ensure that the country would not be defeated by Russia.

At the same time, Biden promised the war-torn country more arms deliveries of more than 800 million dollars (about 769 million euros). His government plans to make a corresponding announcement in the coming days. These include a new modern air defense system and additional ammunition for the Himar rocket launcher system, which Kyiv has already received.

Leopard for Ukraine? Lambrecht speaks to a Spanish colleague

A possible delivery of German-made Leopard main battle tanks by the Spanish armed forces to Ukraine was also discussed on the sidelines of the summit. Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht (SPD) held talks with her Spanish counterpart Margarita Robles in Madrid. It had become clear that there was still no decision on the Spanish side, it said afterwards.

According to Spanish reports, the government in Madrid is considering supplying Leopard 2 A4 main battle tanks and anti-aircraft missiles. The newspaper wrote in early June that these were mothballed tanks that first had to be prepared for use. According to the report, around 40 out of 108 Leopard tanks that Spain bought second-hand in Germany in 1995 could be made operational again. Germany would first have to agree to a transfer.

Next NATO summit in the vicinity of Russia

After Madrid comes Vilnius: According to Stoltenberg, next year’s NATO summit will take place on the eastern flank of the alliance. The Norwegian said they would meet in the Lithuanian capital. Lithuania shares a border with the Russian Baltic Sea exclave of Kaliningrad. The Baltic state also borders Belarus, a close ally of Moscow.