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Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Scholz, Baltic countries insist Western aid is for Ukraine’s defense – News

“The weapons we are supplying Ukraine serve for the defense of Ukrainian territory”, underlined the German Chief Executive, Olaf Scholz, in Tallinn, together with the Estonian Prime Minister, Kaja Kallas, his Latvian counterpart, Arturs Krisjanis Karins , and from Lithuania, Ingrida Simonyte.

Ukraine “never attacked another country”, but is suffering “the brutal Russian aggression”, maintained Karins, recalling that that country is daily the target of attacks on civil infrastructure, as was the case today of a psychiatric hospital in Dnipro, with at least two fatalities.

The head of the Lithuanian Government, for her part, called for the next NATO summit (North Atlantic Treaty Organization, western defense bloc), to be held in her country’s capital, Vilnius, next July, to serve to reinforce the antiaircraft defenses of the entire eastern flank of the Atlantic Alliance.

Ingrida Simonyte recalled the particular vulnerability of the Baltic countries — as former Soviet republics — and stressed that none of these countries will allow themselves to be intimidated by the “provocations” of border states, whether they come from Russia or its ally Belarus.

Asked about the possibility of immediately starting peace negotiations with Moscow, Scholz replied: “The war in Ukraine cannot lead to a frozen conflict. Russia must withdraw its troops from Ukrainian territory, that is the precondition”.

The answer to when or how such negotiations can start “is obviously up to Ukraine”, then clarified the German chancellor, a position supported by the three Baltic leaders.

The meeting of the German leader and his counterparts in the Baltic countries was part of the preliminary round of contacts before the summit that will bring together the 31 Member States of the Atlantic Alliance in Vilnius.

It will be the first in which Finland will appear as a full member of the organization, pending Sweden – which also applied for membership last year, following the Russian invasion of Ukraine – to obtain ratification of the last two members that have not yet did: Hungary and Turkey.

“NATO is an organization oriented towards the defense of each and every one of its members”, recalled Scholz, to underline once again the differences in relation to Russia, as a country that launched a “brutal war of aggression” against Ukraine .

“We should have acted sooner, at the latest in 2014”, lamented Karins, referring to the year in which Russia annexed the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea.

“Ukraine is now paying the consequences of our late response”, added the prime minister of Latvia, a country that, like the other Baltics and Poland, had been asking its Western partners to take positions of greater strength in relation to Moscow.

The military offensive launched on February 24, 2022 by Russia in Ukraine has so far caused the flight of more than 14.7 million people – 6.5 million internally displaced and more than 8.2 million to European countries -, according to with the latest data from the UN, which classifies this refugee crisis as the worst in Europe since the Second World War (1939-1945).

At least 18 million Ukrainians are in need of humanitarian aid and 9.3 million are in need of food aid and housing.

The Russian invasion — justified by the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, with the need to “denazify” and demilitarize Ukraine for Russia’s security — was condemned by the international community in general, which has responded by sending arms to Ukraine and imposing it on Russia. of political and economic sanctions.

The UN presented as confirmed since the beginning of the war, which today entered its 457th day, 8,895 civilians dead and 15,117 wounded, underlining that these numbers are far below the real ones.

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