Turkey optimistic about Ukraine grain exports
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is expressing optimism that humanitarian corridors could be opened to enable the export of Ukrainian grain to the rest of the world amid Russia’s war.
Tens of millions of people across the world are at risk of hunger as the four-month war has disrupted shipments of grain from Ukraine.
Speaking during a meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden on the margins of the NATO summit, Erdogan said, “We are trying to solve the process with a balancing policy. Our hope is that this balance policy will lead to results and allow us possibility to get grain to countries that are facing shortages right now through a corridor as soon as possible.”
Turkey has played a central role in negotiations with Russia and Ukraine to try to reach an agreement that would allow for an increase of the amount of grain that can get out of Ukraine amid the conflict.
Some grain was transported west by rail out of Ukraine, but experts say restoring Ukraine’s ability to export grain through the Black Sea is necessary to have a significant effect on easing global food shortages.
Erdogan said that, “Steps to strengthening NATO would also contribute to the Russia-Ukraine process.”
During their meeting, Biden praised Erdogan for dropping his opposition to Finland and Sweden joining NATO and for “all the incredible work you’re doing to try to get the grain out of Ukraine.”
He said the pair would discuss both issues during their meeting.
Biden added: “You’re doing a great job, I just want to thank you.”
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Ukrainians living in Spain held a peaceful protest in favor of the alliance, welcoming its support of Ukraine during Russia’s invasion.
Yuriy Chopyk, president of the Ukrainian Community in Spain, thanked NATO members and allied countries for their help but said the aid supplied so far is insufficient to defeat Russian troops.
NATO had to “stop this war, because they are killing us, destroying the whole country, destroying the Ukrainian nation,” he said.
Chopyk called for a redoubling of efforts with the supply of more weapons and military equipment.
“We want to make a big appeal, NATO has to help stop this Ukrainian genocide that Russia is doing,” he said.
The demonstration on Wednesday brought together some 50 people in a Madrid neighborhood close to where the two-day NATO summit is being held.
Thousands of police officers and security forces are guarding the capital ahead of the NATO summit and preventing demonstrations getting close to the summit site.
So far, two peaceful protests have been held against the summit on Sunday and Monday in Madrid.
Italian Premier Mario Draghi says plans for an increased U.S. military presence in Europe don’t amount to a military escalation within NATO.
Draghi says the increase announced Wednesday by the White House would amount to just 70 additional U.S. troops on Italian soil and an air defense system that had already been planned.
But he added at the NATO summit in Madrid: “You have to be ready.”
Draghi said overall Italy is committing 10,000 troops to NATO. That includes 2,000 divided among the Italian command of NATO in Bulgaria, its presence in Romania and staffing of air patrols over the Baltics. Another 8,000 are on standby in Italy “if eventually necessary.”
U.S. President Joe Biden says he is “deeply concerned” that North Korea might test a nuclear weapon.
Biden discussed the threats from Pyongyang with Washington’s Asian allies Japan and South Korea on Wednesday, on the sidelines of the NATO summit in Spain.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said a nuclear missile test by North Korea should be met with a coordinated reaction from the three countries present at the meeting.
“I hope that response can be taken at a trilateral level,” he said.
There were concerns that North Korea might test a missile while Biden visited South Korea and Japan last month. It ended up firing three ballistic missiles shortly after Biden left for home.
NATO says a stronger and more capable European Union defense architecture can be “complementary” and “interoperable” with the alliance.
In its new Strategic Concept- the alliance’s once-in-a-decade establishment of priorities and goals - NATO at its annual summit Wednesday described the EU as a “unique and essential partner.”
The document specifies that “initiatives to increase defense spending and develop coherent, mutually reinforcing capabilities, while avoiding unnecessary duplications, are key to our joint efforts to make the Euro-Atlantic area safer.”
The move echoes French President Emmanuel Macron’s push to develop more EU defense autonomy. Macron, whose rotating presidency of the bloc of 27 is ending on Friday, has long been championing the idea of making the EU security less dependent on the U.S. and NATO.
Spain’s Queen Letizia has played tour guide to some of the first ladies of world leaders attending the NATO summit in Madrid.
The tour Wednesday included a group photograph in front of Pablo Picasso’s famous “Guernica” anti-war painting.
Accompanied by Spanish first lady Begona Gomez, the group zipped north on one of Spain’s bullet AVE trains to the city of Segovia where the queen showed them around the luxurious royal palace and gardens of La Granja de San Ildefonso.
The women then whizzed back by bullet train to central Madrid’s Puerta de Atocha station and crossed the road to the Reina Sofia art museum.
There, they saw Picasso’s large, black and white “Guernica” oil masterpiece, an iconic work that depicts the horror of a Nazi and Italian fascist air bombing of a Basque town during the 1936-1939 Spanish Civil War.
Australia’s prime minister is calling on China to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and is welcoming NATO’s interest in Asia-Pacific security.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese says Russia’s attack has strengthened the resolve of democratic nations around the world to work in favor of a rules-based order.
Albanese had what he called a “very successful” meeting with the leaders of Japan, South Korea and New Zealand on Wednesday in Madrid before all four joined the NATO summit being held in the city.
He said they discussed the summit’s “important” focus on the Asia-Pacific region.
Australia has provided military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine.
French President Emmanuel Macron says Sweden and Finland will bring a “significant” contribution to the NATO alliance.
Macron’s office said that during a meeting at the NATO summit on Wednesday with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan the pair stressed “the importance of sending a message of unity and strength” amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Macron praised the deal reached on Tuesday with Turkey, which agreed to lift its opposition to Sweden and Finland joining the alliance.
Both leaders also discussed the need to find ways to allow Ukrainian grain exports. They agreed to continue to coordinate and work with the United Nations to achieve conditions to ensure the security of the port of Odesa and maritime convoys in the Black Sea.
Odesa is a major gateway for grain shipments and its blockade by Russia threatens global food supplies.
BEIJING — China is rebuking NATO for what it calls the alliance’s “Cold War mentality.”
The comments came as NATO leaders held a summit in Spain, where they are expected to identify China as a challenge for the alliance.
Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said NATO should “give up the cold war mentality, zero-sum game and the practice of creating enemies, and not to try to mess up Asia and the whole world after disrupting Europe.”
He accused NATO members of “creating tension and provoking conflicts” by sending warships and aircraft into areas close to the Asian mainland and the South China Sea.
His remarks follow a recent interception of a surveillance aircraft from NATO member Canada by a Chinese fighter in international airspace, which Canadian officials described as reckless on the part of the Chinese pilot.
And U.S. ally Australia on May 26 said China committed a dangerous act of aggression against an Australian air force plane conducting aerial surveillance in the South China Sea.
Zhao also criticized sanctions brought against Russia, whose invasion of Ukraine it has refused to condemn or even describe as an act of aggression.
A senior European Union official is welcoming the chance for the bloc to strengthen its ties with NATO.
Charles Michel, President of the European Council, said the EU and the military alliance held common values which would be on show at the NATO summit starting Wednesday.
Asked if EU members should boost their defense spending in response to the Russian threat following the invasion if Ukraine, Michel said: “Yes! Yes! Yes!”
He added: “And we are doing that because we have decided to increase (defense spending) by 200 billion euros in the following years (...) But it’s not enough.”
Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen are invited to a working dinner held with the leaders of the 30 members of NATO and other national leaders from Europe and the Pacific later at the Prado Museum in Madrid. The leaders of the six non-NATO members belonging to the EU will also attend the dinner, including Sweden and Finland who have asked to join the military alliance.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has deplored NATO’s failure to embrace his country and asked the alliance for more weapons.
Zelenskyy told a NATO summit in Madrid by video link that the alliance’s leaders either had to provide Ukraine with the help it needed to defeat Russia or “face a delayed war between Russia and yourself.”
He also asked Wednesday for more modern artillery systems to fend off the Russia’s invasion, now entering its fifth month.
Zelenskyy bemoaned that Ukraine’s efforts have not merited closer ties with NATO.
He asked: “Hasn’t our contribution to defending Europe and the entire civilization been sufficient? What else is necessary?”
British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss says NATO must make clear to China that invading Taiwan would be “a catastrophic miscalculation.”
She said Wednesday that China’s growing global influence and military clout was “an issue for Euro Atlantic security.”
NATO is expected to identify China as a challenge for the alliance when it sets out its strategy for the coming decade at a summit in Madrid.
Speaking on the sidelines of the summit, Truss said that “with China extending its influence through economic coercion and building a capable military, there is a real risk that they draw the wrong idea which results in a catastrophic miscalculation such as invading Taiwan.”
She urged NATO nations to develop closer economic and diplomatic ties with Taiwan.
U.S. President Joe Biden says America’s military presence in Europe is about to get bigger, as NATO responds to the threat from Moscow following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Biden says the U.S. is establishing a permanent headquarters in Poland, sending two additional F-35 fighter jet squadrons to the UK and will send more “air defense and other capabilities” to Germany and Italy.
The U.S. is also beefing up its military assets in Romania and the Baltic region.
Meeting Wednesday with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg in Madrid for the alliance’s annual summit, Biden says: “NATO is strong and united, and the steps we’re taking during this summit, we’re going to further augment our collective strength.”
“Today I’m announcing the United States will enhance our force posture in Europe and respond to the changing security environment as well as strengthening our collective security,” Biden said, detailing the announcements.
A day earlier, Biden announced that the U.S. would base two additional destroyers at its naval base in Rota, Spain.
The United States provides the bulk of NATO’s military power.
U.S. President Joe Biden has lined up alongside the NATO’s secretary-general and 29 other national leaders for a photo at the highly anticipated summit of the military alliance in Madrid.
Biden stood front-and-center alongside NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, all three sporting blue ties to capture the colors of NATO.
The leaders then filed into a meeting room to start the opening session Wednesday, which is to focus on NATO’s plans to boost its support for Ukraine’s amid Russia’s invasion.
The photo came minutes after President Biden announced that he will deploy more troops, planes and warships to Europe to boost NATO’s rapid response force from 40,000 to 300,000 soldiers.
NATO leaders say bolstering the alliance’s forces in Eastern Europe as a bulwark against Russia is a key priority for the Madrid summit.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said as he arrived for talks Wednesday that NATO needed to learn “the lessons of the last few months and the need for NATO to revise its posture on its eastern flank.”
Polish President Andrzej Duda said NATO’s commitment to greatly increase its rapid reaction force for members nearest to Russia will make Europe “safer.”
He said: “Russia is a threat for Europe and not only for Europe, but for all of NATO.”
NATO has said it will boost its rapid response force from 40,000 to 300,000 troops for its eastern flank, which includes Poland’s borders with Ukraine and Belarus, a Russian ally.
The summit’s opening work session on Wednesday will focus on how NATO can give more support to Ukraine.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said NATO members and others will continue to support Ukraine’s ability to defend itself against Russia “for as long as necessary.”
Speaking Wednesday at the start of the NATO summit in Madrid, Scholz said the military alliance “and many, many other nations” agreed that Russia had breached Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty when it attacked on Feb. 24.
“That’s why it’s right that the countries gathering here, and many others, are contributing with financial means, humanitarian aid, but also by providing weapons that Ukraine urgently needs” to defend itself, Scholz said.
“We will continue to do this for as long and as intensively as necessary, so Ukraine can defend itself,” he added.
Some 10,000 police are locking down Spain’s capital for the NATO summit.
The gathering of 40 world leaders, including U.S. President Joe Biden, is taking place behind roadblocks formed by police vans and armored cars.
They are ringing Madrid’s vast IFEMA conference center on the edge of the city, where the talks open Wednesday.
Spain’s National Police have deployed surveillance drones, while the flying of civilian drones is prohibited during the event.
Local authorities have recommended that Madrid residents work from home if possible and avoid further complicating the traffic problems caused by the security apparatus.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says the military alliance faces its “biggest challenge” since World War II amid the war in Ukraine.
Stoltenberg said at the start of the NATO summit in Madrid on Wednesday that the allies are meeting “in the midst of the most serious security crisis we have faced.”
“This will be a historic and transformative summit,” he told reporters.
Stoltenberg said the alliance is going to agree on deterrence to be able to deploy more combat formations and get more pre-positioned equipment in Eastern Europe by next year.
Ukrainian President Volodymir Zelenskyy is expected to address the 30 leaders via video link Wednesday, as Russia’s invasion stretches into its fifth month.
The gathering has already seen a breakthrough agreement between Turkey and Finland and Sweden for the Nordic countries to begin their accession process.
The asked to join the alliance after witnessing Russia’s brutal attack on its neighbor Ukraine, but Turkey had some misgivings that were overcome Tuesday.