Turkey to greenlight Finland’s NATO bid; China’s Xi to meet Putin in Russia
The ‘NATO-ization of Finland’ advances, as Chinese president heads to Russia on state visit March 20-22.
As expected, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Friday that Turkey would move to ratify Finland joining NATO. Also as expected, China on Friday finally confirmed that Chinese President Xi Jinping will travel to Russia next week at the invitation of Russia President Vladimir Putin on a two-day state visit.
The White House again urged the Chinese leader to consult with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky, and not take a one-sided, Russia-centric view as Xi heads to Moscow and promotes a Chinese proposal laying out its principles on a political settlement to the conflict.
“We also hope that President Xi will reach out to President Zelensky directly, because we continue to believe that it's very important that he hears from the Ukrainian side as well, and not just from Mr. Putin and not just from a Russian perspective,” the National Security Council’s John Kirby told reporters Friday (March 17).
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said Friday that he did not think the Chinese were currently planning to send lethal arms to support Russia.
“I don't think China has reached the moment now when it's ready to arm Russia,” Kuleba told the BBC.
“Nor do I think that this visit will result in peace,” Kuleba said, referring to the visit of China’s Xi to Russia on March 20-22.
Kuleba said that the war will eventually end at the negotiating table, but only after a more decisive outcome on the ground, one in which Ukraine would prevail.
“My goal as foreign minister is to make sure that Ukraine reaches the table after a defining success on the battlefield,” Kuleba told the BBC. “We need to win. And we will win. The question is only the timeline and the price that we will pay for that.”
Turkey to greenlight Finland NATO bid
Turkish President Erdogan, who has supported Ukraine in the war while maintaining a dialogue with Russia and helping negotiate a Black Sea grain deal and prisoner swaps, moved to advance NATO’s expansion to Russia’s borders by announcing that Turkey would move to ratify NATO membership for Finland.
“When it comes to fulfilling its pledges…we have seen that Finland has taken authentic and concrete steps,” Erdogan told a news conference Friday following his meeting with visiting Finnish President Sauli Niinisto.
“Based on the progress that has been made in the protocol for Finland’s accession to NATO, we have decided to initiate the ratification process in our parliament,” Erdogan said.
Changes to Swedish law addressing Turkey’s concerns about Kurdish militants are due to go into effect on June 1, after which Turkey could move to ratify Sweden’s accession to NATO, a Turkish official, speaking not for attribution, explained this week.
That could make way for both Nordic countries to have their memberships approved by the time of the NATO summit in Vilnius in July.
Hungary also has yet to ratify Finland’s and Sweden’s NATO membership bids.
The White House welcomed the Turkish announcement on Finland, and called on Hungary and Turkey to swiftly ratify the NATO accession of both Sweden and Finland.
“The United States welcomes President Erdogan’s announcement that he will send Finland’s NATO accession protocols to the Turkish Parliament and looks forward to the prompt conclusion of that process,” US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said in a statement Friday.
“We encourage Türkiye to quickly ratify Sweden’s accession protocols as well,” Sullivan said. “In addition, we urge Hungary to conclude its ratification process for both Finland and Sweden without delay.”
While Washington, as well as Sweden and Finland, had sought to have both countries join NATO together, “there’s also a desire to keep this moving,” said Kristine Berzina, with the German Marshall Fund.
If both countries are admitted by the time of the NATO summit, “they can have the party in Vilnius in July,” she said.
“I believe there is no reason it can’t be secured by the summit this summer for both Finland and for Sweden,” Sullivan told reporters ahead of a meeting with senior Erdogan advisor Ibrahim Kalin on Tuesday.
As President Biden has said of Putin’s rationalization of Russia’s war on Ukraine, “He wanted…the Finlandization of NATO. He got the NATO-ization of Finland, instead.”
Updated 3/17 1:55pm with Sullivan statement; and correcting date of photo in the caption.
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