NATO to boost forces in Europe …as Ukraine war rages

Western powers pledged to provide Ukraine with more money and send additional ships and fighter jets to Eastern Europe amid tensions with Russia.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) said that it would deploy more ships and fighter jets to some of its easternmost members, while the European Commission said it would provide Ukraine with a new financial assistance package worth €1.2 billion.

“We are firm in our resolve,” European Union (EU) Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, said. “As ever, the EU stands by Ukraine in these difficult circumstances.”

The United States and its allies have increasingly warned in recent weeks that Russia could invade Ukraine after the Kremlin 100,000 troops at the two countries’ shared border. Russia began building up more troops there in November after a similar move in March 2021.

Amid the fears of a possible invasion, the United Kingdom’s foreign office said in a statement that they had information indicating Russia was “looking to install a pro-Russian leader in Kyiv as it considers whether to invade and occupy Ukraine.”

The foreign office said that Ukrainian Member of Parliament (MP,) Yevheniy Murayev, was a possible candidate. The Russian foreign ministry dismissed the UK statement as “nonsense.”

Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014. Around the same time, two regions in eastern Ukraine broke away from government control. A subsequent conflict between Russian-backed separatists and Ukrainian forces has killed more than 13,000 people.

The United States, NATO and EU have called for Russia to de-escalate tensions by drawing down its troops on the Ukrainian border. US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, spoke with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, in Geneva on Friday, a day after warning of “massive consequences” in the event of any Russian military incursion into Ukraine.

In December, Russia sent a list of demands to the US and its allies, including that NATO did not expand to Ukraine or any other former Soviet countries.

Moscow also insisted that the alliance withdraw forces from some eastern European member states that joined after 1997, including Bulgaria and Romania.

Those demands were dismissed by the US and NATO as nonstarters. Instead, NATO appears to be doubling down on deterrence. –

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