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Latest in Ukraine: Turkey Ratifies Finland’s NATO Bid


FILE - Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, right, and Finnish President Sauli Niinisto hold a joint press conference after their meeting at the Presidential Complex in Ankara, March 17, 2023.
FILE - Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, right, and Finnish President Sauli Niinisto hold a joint press conference after their meeting at the Presidential Complex in Ankara, March 17, 2023.

New developments:

  • NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg says Finland will formally join NATO “in the coming days.”
  • Spain to send six Leopard tanks to Ukraine in April.
  • Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba called the rotating U.N. Security Council presidency to be held by Russia on April 1 “a bad joke.” Kuleba tweeted that the world “can’t be a safe place with Russia at UNSC.”
  • Russia’s Federal Security Service said Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich had been arrested on espionage charges.

The British Defense Ministry said in its intelligence update Friday that Ukraine recently released footage of a Russian counterbattery radar being destroyed in the Donetsk area. These systems can quickly detect and strike enemy artillery, the report said, and they are also vulnerable to being detected and destroyed.

While both Russia and Ukraine would like to increase their stock of these systems, according to the ministry, “Russia will likely struggle because the systems rely on supplies of high-tech electronics which have been disrupted by sanctions.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in his daily address Thursday, “Today, on the 400th day of resistance, full-scale resistance, I want to thank everyone in the world who stands with Ukraine ... who has the same strong conviction that we, Ukrainians, have ... the conviction that the world should be based on rules, on civilized rules -- on the rules of humanity, respect and peace. ... We will not leave a single trace of Russia on our land.”

Turkey’s parliament on Thursday ratified Finland’s bid to join NATO, lifting the last hurdle of the Nordic country’s accession into the Western military alliance.

"All 30 NATO allies have now ratified the accession protocol," Stoltenberg said Friday. "Finland will formally join our alliance in the coming days." In a tweet following Turkey’s vote Thursday, Stoltenberg said Finland’s inclusion in the alliance “will make the whole NATO family stronger & safer.”

Finland and neighboring Sweden each dropped decades of nonalignment with their applications to join the military alliance after Russia invaded Ukraine last year.

Since their accession bids were ratified at a NATO summit in July, NATO member states have gone through their own processes of giving final approval for Finland and Sweden.

Hungary gave its approval to Finland on Monday, leaving only Turkey remaining in a process that must be unanimous among current NATO members.

Both Finland and Sweden saw their bids slowed as Turkey expressed concern that the countries were too lenient toward groups that Turkey considers terror organizations.

Representatives from the three countries met this month to resolve their outstanding issues, but Turkey has yet to indicate it will ultimately support Sweden’s bid, nor has Hungary.

There is “an ample amount of grievances that need to be addressed” before Sweden’s bid to join NATO is ratified by Hungary, government spokesperson Zoltan Kovacs said Wednesday.

Sweden and NATO leaders have said Sweden has carried out a series of reforms to overcome Turkey’s concerns. Stoltenberg has repeatedly said he expects both Finland and Sweden will eventually become NATO members.

Some material in this report came from The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters.

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