NATO has pledged open-ended military support for Ukraine, as Finland and Sweden formally announced their bid to join the military alliance and Russia warned the "militarization" of Ukraine will threaten global security.
NATO members are committed to providing Ukraine with military assistance for as long as it needs to repel Russia’s military campaign, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said at a NATO meeting in Berlin on Sunday.
"We agree that we must not and will not let up in our national efforts, especially in terms of military support, for as long as Ukraine needs this support for the self-defense of its country," Baerbock stated.
At a news conference after the meeting, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken also said NATO countries would keep up military aid to Ukraine and sanctions against Russia for as long as necessary.
"Every member of the alliance wants to bring this war to an end as soon as possible. We are clearly determined to maintain our security assistance to Ukraine, to continue our sanctions, export control and diplomatic pressure on Russia for as long as is necessary," Blinken said.
Militarization of Ukraine 'threatens European, global security'
The reiteration of broad military support for Ukraine came as Russian Ambassador to the United States warned that Ukraine’s militarization by the West "directly threatens European and global security."
Moscow is calling on "the sponsors of the Kiev regime to stop instigating bloodshed in Ukraine and think about the consequences of their actions," Anatoly Antonov said earlier in the day.
On Sunday, Finland officially announced its intention to become a member of NATO despite stern warnings from Russia.
Sweden quickly followed suit, with Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson saying she will go to parliament on Monday to seek support for an application to join NATO. The announcement came shortly after Sweden's ruling party dropped its long-standing opposition to NATO membership.
Joining NATO was a distant prospect for both European countries just months ago, but Russia's offensive in neighboring Ukraine appears to have prompted them to rethink their security needs.
Andersson said military non-alignment had served Sweden well in the past but was unlikely to do so in the future in light of Russia’s attack on Ukraine.
"The best thing for the security of Sweden and the Swedish people is to join NATO," she said. "We believe Sweden needs the formal security guarantees that come with membership in NATO."
Finland's bid to join NATO will also have to be discussed in parliament, a process that will likely move forward smoothly given the overall mood of the country and the fact that the prime minister and president have both spoken in favor of membership.
Russia will bolster its military presence on the border with Finland if Helsinki presses ahead with its desire to join NATO, Viktor Bondarev, chairman of the Federation Council Committee on Defense and Security, said Sunday.
"We will strengthen the border, increase the presence of the Russian troops on the border if offensive, striking weapons of NATO are deployed in Finland, in our immediate vicinity," Bondarev said.
Moscow has long expressed grievances to the West about NATO’s eastward expansion. Key to its list of security demands from the West prior to the invasion of Ukraine was a guarantee that Kiev would never be part of NATO.
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