China declared a ’threat; Anthony Albanese reacts, Vladimir Putin warns alliance over expansion to Sweden, Finland

It also formally invited Finland and Sweden to join, after Turkey dropped its veto on their membership applications late on Tuesday. Russian President Vladimir Putin then renewed his warnings that Russia would respond in kind if NATO deploys troops and infrastructure in long-time neutral Finland and Sweden.

The US and Britain committed new troops to Eastern Europe as part of the largest scaling up of NATO defences since the Cold War in response to Russia’s attacks on its neighbour, increasing the number of alliance soldiers on high alert more than seven-fold to 300,000.

NATO guests: Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, Japanese PM Fumio Kishida, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern and South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, at the NATO summit in Madrid, Spain.Credit:AP

It is a message to reassure allies on the alliance’s eastern flank that their security concerns are understood.

The new deployments will be in addition to the more than 100,000 US troops currently stationed in Europe, which had already increased by about 20,000 since Putin invaded Ukraine four months ago.

“We are sending a strong message to Putin: ‘You will not win’,” Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said in a speech.


President Joe Biden said the US would enhance its presence in Europe “to defend every inch of allied territory”, establishing a permanent headquarters in Poland, sending 5000 additional troops to Romania and increasing rotational deployments in the Baltic States.

Other NATO states are expected to announce increases in defence spending and additional deployments on Thursday (AEST), as well as agreeing to additional military support for Ukraine.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the challenges were “too great for any nation or organisation to face alone”.

Speaking to Russian state television after the alliance invited Finland and Sweden to join, Putin said: “With Sweden and Finland, we don’t have the problems that we have with Ukraine. They want to join NATO, go ahead. But they must understand there was no threat before, while now, if military contingents and infrastructure are deployed there, we will have to respond in kind and create the same threats for the territories from which threats towards us are created.

“Everything was fine between us, but now there might be some tensions, there certainly will,” he said. “It’s inevitable if there is a threat to us.”

The new planning document set the stage for the allies to plan to handle Beijing’s transformation from a benign trading partner to a fast-growing competitor on issues from the Arctic to cyberspace, and recommitted the alliance to collective defence “against all threats from all directions”.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg talks during a news conference at the NATO summit.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg talks during a news conference at the NATO summit.Credit:AP

Unlike Russia, whose war has raised serious concerns in the Baltics of an attack on NATO territory, China is not an adversary, world leaders said.

However, Stoltenberg repeatedly called on Beijing to condemn Russia’s war in Ukraine, which Moscow says is a “special operation”.


“China is not an adversary but, of course, we need to take into account the consequences to our security when we see China investing heavily in new modern military capabilities, long-range missiles, nuclear weapons, and also trying to control critical infrastructure, for instance, 5G networks in our own countries,” he said.

Albanese warned China to heed the lessons of the Ukraine conflict and distance itself from Russia.

“China must look at what is happening, look at the result that is there throughout the world, and should be condemning Russia’s actions,” he said earlier. on the sidelines of the summit.

Earlier, he told NATO leaders that Beijing and Moscow shared a “lack of democratic values”, and declared the two nations’ increasing closeness posed a risk to all democracies.


“Just as Russia seeks to recreate a Russian or Soviet empire, the Chinese government is seeking friends, whether it be … through economic support to build up alliances to undermine what has historically been the Western alliance in places like the Indo-Pacific,” he said.

In a customary stinging rebuke, the state-run China daily published an editorial on Wednesday criticising the prime minister: “It is hard to believe that the new Australian leader can be so ill-informed as to not know China’s stance on the Ukraine crisis, which it has clarified on multiple occasions, or that he can be so ignorant as not to understand the status of Taiwan.”

A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said NATO should “stop trying to mess up Asia and the world after messing up Europe”.

“They should also stop trying to launch a new Cold War. What they should do is give up their Cold War mindset, zero-sum games, and stop doing things that create enemies,” Zhao Lijian said.

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