-NATO’s quick reaction Force so far has some 40,000 Troops
-Turkish President to meet Swedish, Finnish leaders on the sidelines of Madrid Summit
MADRID: Coupled with other measures including the deployment of Forces to defend specific allies, Stoltenberg said on Monday that the move to expand NATO forces is part of the “biggest overhaul of collective defence and deterrence since the Cold War”.
He made the remarks at a news conference ahead of a NATO Summit in Madrid, Spain, when the 30 military allies in the bloc are expected to also agree on further support to Ukraine after its invasion by Russia.
Stoltenberg said he expects allies to make clear they consider Russia “as the most significant and direct threat to our security”.
Another central theme at the NATO summit will be the possibility for Finland and Sweden to join the alliance following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. NATO member Turkey has so far blocked their applications, citing what it considers to be the two countries’ soft approach to organisations Turkey considers to be “terrorist”, such as the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK. Turkey is demanding that Sweden and Finland grant extradition requests for individuals who are wanted by Turkish authorities.
Ankara also wants assurances that arms restrictions imposed by the two countries over Turkey’s 2019 military incursion into northern Syria will be removed.
Stoltenberg said that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Finnish President Sauli Niinisto, and Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson have agreed to meet on the sidelines of the Madrid Summit.
Meanwhile, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan will attend a round of talks with the leaders of Sweden and Finland, as well as NATO on Tuesday ahead of the summit in Madrid, Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said.
Finland and Sweden applied for NATO membership in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. But the bids have faced opposition from Turkey, which has been angered by what it says is Helsinki and Stockholm’s support for Kurdish militants and arms embargoes on Ankara. “There will be a four-way summit at the leader level with the attendance of our president in Madrid upon the request of the NATO secretary general,” Kalin said.
He said Erdogan attending the talks with Sweden, Finland, and NATO on Tuesday “does not mean we will take a step back from our position.”