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Russia says to respond if NATO moves nuclear forces near border

Russia says it would take precautionary measures if NATO deployed nuclear forces and infrastructure closer to the country’s border.

Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko on Saturday said Moscow has no hostile intentions towards Finland and Sweden and does not see “real” reasons for those two countries to be joining the NATO alliance.

The country’s Foreign Ministry has already said Finland’s entry into NATO would “seriously damage” bilateral relations, as well as security and stability in northern Europe.

The US and some European governments have said they would support the two countries joining the NATO military alliance despite Russia’s warning of dire consequences.

The warning comes amid Russia’s military operation in Ukraine which began on February 24 to “demilitarize” two eastern Ukrainian regions.

EU increases military aid to Ukraine as Sweden moves to NATO membership

EU foreign policy Chief Josep Borrell said Friday the EU will provide another €500 million in financial support to Ukraine’s military, bringing the total value of the bloc’s overall military fund for the country to €2 billion.

“I will announce that we as the European Union will provide a new tranche of €500 million to support Ukraine militarily,” Borrell told reporters at a meeting of foreign ministers from the Group of Seven (G7) in Gut Weissenhaus, Germany.

Borrell added that this would give “a new impetus for military support” for Ukraine.

The money is being provided via the European Peace Facility (EPF), an EU fund for military assistance and allows Ukraine to procure weapons and equipment for its fight against Russia.

The first package of €500 million was approved in late February and then topped up with two more packages worth the same amount. This fourth tranche of money brings the total support to €2 billion.

The new payment still needs to be approved by EU countries. In a tweet, European Council President Charles Michel expressed his “full support” for Borrell’s announcement.

Borrell said he was optimistic that a deal could be reached next week about the EU sanctions package on Russia’s oil import.

The decision seems to have encountered with difficulty due to resistance from Hungary.

Borrell said he “will provide a new political impetus for an agreement” on the oil ban at an EU foreign ministers’ meeting on Monday in Brussels,

“I’m sure that we will have an agreement. We need an agreement, and we will have it.”

‘Supplying weapons to Ukraine is morally legitimate under certain conditions’: Vatican’s number two

The Vatican’s number two says supplying weapons to Ukraine is morally legitimate under certain conditions.

Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin made the remarks on the sidelines of a conference in Rome, as the topic of supplying arms to Ukraine was discussed at a meeting of foreign ministers from the G7 rich nations in Germany.

“There is a right to armed defense in the case of aggression,” Parolin said in response to a question about countries sending weapons to Ukraine.

Intense fighting raged in eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region

Intense fighting raged in east Ukraine where Russia has been concentrating its forces, while “very difficult negotiations” were underway over the fate of the last besieged defenders in the city of Mariupol.

Ukrainian forces repulsed Russian attempts to cross a river and encircle the city of Severodonetsk, said Serhiy Gaidai, governor of the eastern Luhansk region.

“There’s heavy fighting on the border with Donetsk region, from the side of Popasna,” Gaidai said, reporting heavy losses of equipment and personnel by the Russians.

Russia launched the military operation in Ukraine following Kiev’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements and Moscow’s recognition of the breakaway regions of Donetsk and Luhansk.

At the time, Russian President Vladimir Putin said one of the goals of what he called a “special military operation” was to “de-Nazify” Ukraine.

Over the past three months, Russian forces have made significant military advances in the country despite Kiev receiving massive military aid from the West.

 

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