Ukraine, Briefly

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This week, Group of Seven (G7) leaders concluded a NATO summit by announcing a major security program to enhance Ukraine’s defenses, even though they stopped short of inviting Kyiv into the military alliance, the Washington Post reported. The agreement aims to provide long-term military and humanitarian funding to Ukraine. The G7 leaders also expressed their intention to deter Russian aggression by strengthening Ukraine’s alliances and defense capabilities. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy had initially criticized NATO for not providing a clear timeline for Ukraine’s membership, but later recognized the complexities and the desire to avoid a world war.

Also this week:

  • Turkey has approved Sweden’s bid to join NATO, allowing the alliance to complete its expansion in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, according to the Wall Street Journal. The agreement was reached just before the NATO summit in Lithuania and signals a potential shift in Turkey’s stance towards the West. The inclusion of Sweden and Finland in NATO adds significant military strength to the alliance and helps close a vital gap in Northern Europe where Russia has been increasing its presence. For Sweden, NATO membership provides security guarantees against Russia. The decision is a key foreign policy goal for US President Joe Biden and could lead to warmer relations between Turkey and the United States.
  • The Kremlin confirmed that Russian President Vladimir Putin held a meeting in Moscow with Yevgeny Prigozhin, the chief of the mercenary Wagner Group, and around 35 commanders days after the failed uprising by Wagner against Russia’s military leadership, NPR reported. During the three-hour meeting, Putin gave his assessment of the rebellion, while Wagner’s commanders assured him of their loyalty and commitment to fighting for Russia. The future role of Wagner remains unclear. Recent reports have questioned the terms of the amnesty deal that allowed Prigozhin and his fighters to exile in Belarus. Meanwhile, Russian army chief Gen. Valery Gerasimov, a key target of Prigozhin’s anger and the rebellion, remains in position and has reappeared, overseeing Russia’s military operations in Ukraine, according to Russia’s defense ministry.
  • The United States’ decision to provide Ukraine with cluster munitions – which are banned by over 100 countries – has drawn criticism from US allies and Russia, Voice of America wrote. Canada, the United Kingdom, Spain, Germany, and the United Nations expressed opposition to the move. However, Ukraine’s defense ministry welcomed the decision, pledging to use them only in Russian-occupied territories. Cluster munitions release multiple smaller bombs, causing indiscriminate casualties. Biden defended the move, saying it would help Ukraine defend against Russian tanks. The decision circumvents US law on cluster munitions and concerns are growing over Ukraine’s progress against Russian troops. The cluster munitions are part of an $800 million aid package, bringing total US military aid to Ukraine to over $40 billion since Russia’s invasion.
  • The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) fined Moscow this week for its inadequate investigation into the assassination of Boris Nemtsov, a prominent opponent of President Putin, Euronews noted. The ECHR ruled that the Russian authorities had failed to sufficiently investigate the individuals responsible for organizing and ordering the murder. The investigation also neglected to explore allegations of the involvement of state officials, and lacked overall effectiveness. The court ordered Moscow to pay more than $22,000 in non-pecuniary damages to Nemtsov’s daughter. The ECHR concluded that Russia violated Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which guarantees the right to life. Despite the conviction of five men for the murder in 2017, Nemtsov’s family criticized the investigation, considering it a failure in identifying the true culprits and blaming the Russian justice system.

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