Live updates | Trudeau: Canada to up Latvia troop presence

MADRID (AP) — The Latest on the final day of the NATO summit in Madrid:

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Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says his government will increase Canada’s troop presence in Latvia as part of NATO’s commitment to strengthen its deterrence measures along Russia’s border.

Trudeau made the announcement at the close of the three-day NATO summit in Madrid. He did not give specific numbers.

Canada leads NATO’s battlegroup in Latvia of around 2,000 soldiers in total. Albania, the Czech Republic, Italy, Montenegro, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain also provide troops to the group.

“We will be bolstering our military deployment in Latvia and work with other allies to be able to rapidly augment our current strength to our combat capable brigade when required,” Trudeau said.

Trudeau said his government also wants to send up to 39 armored combat support vehicles to Ukraine along with six additional drone cameras to help fight the Russian invasion.

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— US boosting military presence in Europe amid Russia threat

— NATO calls Russia its ‘ most significant and direct threat ’

— NATO pivots to highlight Chinese ‘challenges’ for 1st time

— Explainer: How was Turkey’s veto of Nordic NATO bid avoided?

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OTHER DEVELOPMENTS:

Turkey’s president is hailing his country’s joint memorandum with Sweden and Finland over their NATO accession as a victory.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Thursday that all of Turkey’s “sensitivities” had been included in the 10-article agreement.

The deal signed Tuesday removed Turkey’s objection to the Nordic countries’ NATO membership. But Erdogan added that if Sweden and Finland did not fulfill their promises, Turkey could still block their membership by not ratifying the deal in the Turkish parliament.

Erdogan claimed after the NATO summit ended that Sweden had promised to extradite 73 “terrorists” to Turkey and crack down on the financing and recruitment activities of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, and its extensions.

However, the Nordic countries only said they would “address” those requests in accordance with the European Convention on Extradition and gave no firm number in the written agreement.

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French President Emmanuel Macron says France is ready to send more troops to Romania if needed as part of the NATO mission to bolster forces on its eastern flank following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

France already has around 500 soldiers and an air defense system deployed in Romania. Macron said the assets can be reinforced “at very short notice.”

Macron, speaking at a news conference Thursday following the NATO summit in Madrid, said France’s financial, humanitarian and military support for Ukraine will continue “as long as needed.”

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U.S. President Joe Biden says his administration will soon provide another $800 million in security assistance for Ukraine to fight Russia’s invasion.

Biden said the new aid would include advanced air defense systems, counter battery radars, and additional ammunition for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, or HIMARS, that the administration has already sent to Ukraine.

Biden said Thursday the package will be formally detailed by his administration in the coming days.

He spoke at a news conference at the end of the NATO summit in Madrid.

The latest round of aid is part of the $40 billion package of security and economic assistance passed last month by the U.S. Congress and signed into law by Biden. It is the 14th package of weapons and military equipment committed to Ukraine since the war began.

With the latest tranche of assistance, the U.S. has committed about $7 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since late February when Russia invaded its neighbor.

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President Joe Biden says Americans should expect to pay higher gas prices “as long as it takes so Russia cannot, in fact, defeat Ukraine and move beyond Ukraine.”

Russia’s invasion of its neighbor last February is blamed for driving up the oil price.

“This is a critical, critical position for the world,” Biden said at a news conference Thursday on the final day of the NATO summit in Madrid.

Biden said “Russia, Russia, Russia” is the reason people are spending more at the pump. He’s talking with U.S. allies about setting a cap on the price of Russian oil, limiting how much money that Moscow can make from its exports.

Biden emphasized his long-term support for Ukraine as the war drags on, saying, “We are going to stick with Ukraine.”

“I don’t know what it how it’s going to end, but it will not end with a Russian defeat of Ukraine in Ukraine,” he said.

Although gas prices remain a political challenge for Biden, he said that he wouldn’t use his scheduled trip to Saudi Arabia next month to request more oil production.

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President Joe Biden says NATO has transformed itself by adapting to a rapidly changing security situation around the globe.

Closing the military alliance’s summit in Madrid on Thursday, Biden described the meeting as “historic.”

The three-day summit included the Biden administration announcing plans to permanently bolster the U.S. military presence in Europe, an agreement between Turkey, Finland and Sweden to pave the way for the accession of Nordic nations into NATO, and the alliance updating its strategic concept reflect that China’s “coercive policies” are a challenge to the Western bloc’s interests.

Biden noted the last time NATO updated its strategic concept Russia was characterized as a partner and the document didn’t even mention China.

“The world has changed, changed a great deal since then,” Biden said told a press conference.

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Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez admits the war between Russia and Ukraine is going on longer than expected.

Speaking Thursday at the end of a NATO summit hosted by Spain, Sánchez said the allies had all conveyed their wish to see peace talks. But he added: “It must be Ukraine which decides its future.”

He added that Ukraine has the allies’ “full backing until the last Russian soldier leaves its territory.”

Sánchez also expressed satisfaction that Spain had achieved its goal of getting NATO to place special attention to the threats it faces on its southern flank, particularly from terrorist and mercenary groups in the Sahel region of Africa where Russia has substantial influence.

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Chancellor Olaf Scholz says Germany will launch the process of ratifying the planned NATO membership of Sweden and Finland this week and will conclude it “very quickly.”

The two Nordic nations were formally invited on Wednesday to join the alliance. Scholz said Thursday that “we stand ready to assure both countries of support already now as long as the accession process isn’t formally concluded.”

Asked whether that’s a political statement or if there are military plans for such support, Scholz replied that it’s simply part of the solidarity the countries owe each other.

Scholz added that Russian President Vladimir Putin appeared “more or less unfazed” by NATO’s decision to admit the two countries, “so I think this is something where, despite the tricky situation, we can assume that it won’t contribute to intensifying the tensions between NATO and Russia.”

He conceded that that outlook comes with “uncertainty.”

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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says the withdrawal of Russian troops from Snake Island in the Black Sea is a sign that Ukraine will prevail in the war.

Johnson said the pullout from the island where occupying Russian troops have faced relentless Ukrainian attacks shows that “again Russia has had to cede ground.” He said that “in the end it will prove impossible for Putin to hold down a country that will not accept” occupation.

Johnson spoke at the end of a NATO summit in Madrid dominated by the consequences of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

He said Russia must be driven off from all the territory it has occupied since it invaded in February and that at the moment “there doesn’t seem to be anything to talk about” regarding a cease-fire.

Johnson welcomed a commitment by many NATO members to increase defense spending and said the U.K. would raise its spending target from 2% of GDP to 2.5% by the end of the decade.

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NATO’s leader has closed a summit of the Western military alliance with a message to Moscow that the allies are prepared to “protect every inch of NATO territory” and fully back Ukraine in its battle against Russian forces.

Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Thursday that NATO has “made sure that there is no misunderstanding in the minds of any adversary, that if they do anything like what Russia has done to Georgia in 2008 or Ukraine now, that will trigger the full response of the whole alliance.”

Stoltenberg said the three-day summit in Madrid featured several “transformative” decisions.

Besides pledging more aid by NATO members for Kyiv, the allies agreed to boost their rapid response forces in Eastern Europe from 40,000 to 300,000, invited Sweden and Finland to join as new members, and approved a new list of top security priorities for the next decade, among other decisions.

“We face the most serious security situation in decades, but we are rising to the challenge with unity and resolve,” Stoltenberg said.

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Sweden plans to send additional military support to Ukraine, including anti-tank weapons, support weapons and demining equipment that it says Kyiv had requested.

The hardware is worth approximately 500 million kronor ($49 million).

“It is important that the support to Ukraine from the democratic countries in Europe is continuous and long-term,” Defense Minister Peter Hultqvist said, according to the Swedish news agency TT.

He didn’t say when and how the equipment would be delivered but said, “It is in everyone’s interest that it is delivered as quickly as possible.”

Sweden was invited at a NATO summit this week to join the Western military alliance.

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Italian Premier Mario Draghi is skipping the last day of the NATO summit in Madrid amid simmering tensions in his coalition government.

Draghi’s office said the premier will attend a Cabinet meeting in the Italian capital on Thursday. Measures to bring relief for high consumer energy bills and government spending top the Cabinet’s agenda.

Draghi’s abrupt departure came amid tension in his wide-ranging unity coalition, assembled during the COVID-19 pandemic.

His predecessor, populist 5-Star Movement leader Giuseppe Conte, has been seething over issues including Draghi’s staunch support for more military aid for Ukraine.

The 5-Stars are themselves in turmoil after Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio broke with the Movement last week, forming his own pro-Draghi political group, with an eye to national elections next year.

Italian Defense Minister Lorenzo Guerini is standing in for Draghi in Madrid.

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Britain is sending 1 billion pounds’ ($1.21 billion) worth of military support to Ukraine, bringing its total military and economic support since the start of the war to 3.8 billion pounds.

The government said the new money is for equipment including air defense systems, unmanned aerial vehicles and electronic warfare equipment.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged allies at a NATO summit in Madrid on Thursday to “dig deep” in support of Ukraine.

Britain is the second-largest contributor of military support to Ukraine, after the United States. It is also one of only nine of the 30 NATO members meeting the alliance’s target of spending 2% of GDP on defense.

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NATO leaders are arriving at a conference center in Madrid for the third and final day of their annual summit.

The 30-member alliance is due to wrap up its talks with a working session on security concerns for its southern flank, namely in unstable areas of North Africa and the Middle East.

On Wednesday, NATO nations pledged their continued support for Ukraine in its efforts to resist Russia’s invasion. It also issued an updated Strategic Concept, the document which lays out its top security concerns for the coming decade, where it named Russia as its top threat and added China for the first time.

NATO has also announced that it will boost its rapid response forces for Eastern Europe, increasing them from 40,000 to 300,000 troops ready to react to any attack by Russia against NATO territory.

The alliance has also cleared the path for Sweden and Finland to become new members after overcoming Turkey’s misgivings.

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BRUSSELS — China has reacted to NATO naming it as a security challenge by calling the Western military alliance a “Cold War remnant” that is “smearing” Beijing’s international reputation.

On Wednesday, NATO issued its updated Strategic Concept, the document that lays out its top security threats for the coming decade. While Russia was named its top threat, NATO included China for the first time.

It said that China “strives to subvert the rules-based international order, including in the space, cyber and maritime domains” and warned of its close ties with Moscow.

A statement released by China’s Mission to the European Union on Thursday responded: “Since NATO positions China as a ‘systemic challenge,’ we have to pay close attention and respond in a coordinated way. When it comes to acts that undermine China’s interests, we will make firm and strong responses.”

China insisted that it promotes peace through its collaboration with the United Nations and its foreign development projects.

It called the 30-nation alliance a source of instability.

“NATO claims itself to be a defensive organization that upholds the rules-based international order, but it has bypassed the U.N. Security Council and waged wars against sovereign states, creating huge casualties and leaving tens of millions displaced,” it said.

Copyright © 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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