Home European News Supreme Court Rejects Nadezhdin’s Latest Appeal Over Decision To Bar Him From Russian Presidential Vote

Supreme Court Rejects Nadezhdin’s Latest Appeal Over Decision To Bar Him From Russian Presidential Vote

Supreme Court Rejects Nadezhdin’s Latest Appeal Over Decision To Bar Him From Russian Presidential Vote

BRUSSELS — NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says the death of Russian opposition politician Aleksei Navalny and the first Russian gains on the battlefield in months should help focus the attention of NATO and its allies on the urgent need to support Ukraine.

According to excerpts from an interview Stoltenberg had in Brussels with RFE/RL on February 20, the NATO chief said the withdrawal of Ukrainian forces from the city of Avdiyivka after months of intense fighting demonstrates the need for more military aid “to ensure that Russia doesn’t make further gains.”

The death of Navalny in an Arctic prison on February 16 under suspicious circumstances — authorities say it will be another two weeks before the body may be released to the family — adds to the need to ensure Russian President Vladimir Putin’s authoritarian rule does not go unchecked.

“I strongly believe that the best way to honor the memory of Aleksei Navalny is to ensure that President Putin doesn’t win on the battlefield, but that Ukraine prevails,” Stoltenberg said in the interview, a full version of which will be released on February 23.

Ukraine’s allies have been focused on a $61 billion U.S. military aid package, Stoltenberg said, but while that remains stalled in the House of Representatives, other countries, including Sweden, Canada, and Japan, have stepped up their aid.

Sweden announced its 15th aid package and largest to date since Russia launched its full-scale invasion two years ago. Worth 7.1 billion Swedish kroner ($684 million), the package will provide combat boats, mines, artillery ammunition, and air-defense equipment, among other items, Sweden’s defense minister announced.

Canada’s Defense Department said on February 19 it would expedite the delivery of more than 800 drones, adding in a statement that drones have become a critical capability for Ukraine in the war. They will cost more than $95 million Canadian ($70 million) and are part of a previously announced military aid package for Ukraine. Deliveries will start as early as this spring, the statement said.

Live Briefing: Russia’s Invasion Of Ukraine

RFE/RL’s Live Briefing gives you all of the latest developments on Russia’s full-scale invasion, Kyiv’s counteroffensive, Western military aid, global reaction, and the plight of civilians. For all of RFE/RL’s coverage of the war in Ukraine, click here.

The additional aid from Tokyo amounts to $106 million to aid Ukraine’s reconstruction from war damages, including areas such as demining and infrastructure.

“Of course, we are focused on the United States, but we also see how other allies are really stepping up and delivering significant support to Ukraine,” Stoltenberg said.

On the question of when Ukraine will be able to deploy F-16 fighter jets, Stoltenberg said it was not possible to say. He reiterated that Ukraine’s allies all want them to be there as early as possible but said the effect of the F-16s will be stronger if pilots are well-trained and maintenance crews and other support personnel are well-prepared.

“So, I think we have to listen to the military experts exactly when we will be ready to or when allies will be ready to start sending and delivering the F-16s,” he said. “The sooner the better.”

Ukraine has actively sought the U.S.-made F-16 fighter jets to help it counter Russian air superiority. The United States in August approved sending F-16s to Ukraine from Denmark and the Netherlands as soon as pilot training is completed.

It will be up to each ally to decide whether to deliver F-16s to Ukraine, and allies have different policies, Stoltenberg said. But at the same time, the war in Ukraine is a war of aggression, he said, and Ukraine has the right to self-defense, including striking legitimate Russian military targets outside Ukraine.

Asked about the prospect of former U.S. President Donald Trump returning to the White House, Stoltenberg said he believes that, regardless of the outcome of the U.S. election this year, the United States will remain a committed NATO ally because it is in the security interest of the United States.

Trump, the current front-runner in the race to become the Republican Party’s presidential nominee, drew sharp rebukes from President Joe Biden, European leaders, and NATO after suggesting at a campaign rally on February 10 that the United States might not defend alliance members from a potential Russian invasion if they don’t pay enough for their own defense.

Stoltenberg said the United States is safer and stronger together with more than 30 allies — something that neither China nor Russia has.

The criticism of NATO has been aimed at allies underspending on defense, he said. But Stoltenberg said new data shows that more and more NATO allies are meeting the target of spending 2 percent of GDP on defense, and this demonstrates that the alliance has come a long way since it pledged in 2014 to meet the target.

At that time, only three members of NATO spent 2 percent of GDP on defense; now it’s 18, he said.

“If you add together what all European allies do and compare that to the GDP in total in Europe, it’s actually 2 percent today,” he said. “That’s good, but it’s not enough because we want [each NATO member] to spend 2 percent. And we also make sure that 2 percent is a minimum.”


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here