A preview of the NATO summit
Leaders of NATO countries are preparing for two days of meetings starting tomorrow in Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania.
Ukraine will be a big issue. The war there continued for more than 500 days, and the counteroffensive was moving slowly. Ukraine wants to join NATO, but President Biden said yesterday that it is “premature” to start the process of admitting the country in the middle of a war.
I spoke with Steven Erlanger, our chief diplomatic correspondent for Europe, about what we can expect from the meeting.
Amelia: What do NATO allies hope to achieve at this summit?
Steve: The main task of this NATO summit is to show the unity and solidarity of the alliance in support of Ukraine.
It will be filled with the most gassy rhetoric you can imagine. But it is also important because Russia believes, in our opinion, that it can wait for Western support for Ukraine. And in fact the main task of this summit is to say to President Vladimir Putin: “That will not happen.”
What will you see at the summit?
For me, the most important thing that will happen is the political signing of the new NATO military plans to prevent Russia and protect NATO territory.
After Russia annexed Crimea, in 2014, NATO deployed these four enhanced battalions forward in Poland and the three Baltic countries with 1,200 or more multinational troops in each country, as one you tripwire. After February 2022, at the start of the war, NATO deployed more in the remaining part of the east. In total, only about 10,300 troops.
So part of the plan is to add 4,000 to 5,000 troops quickly to these countries, in case of an emergency.
There is an open question as to whether NATO will extend Ukraine’s membership. Do you expect that to work?
NATO will not offer membership to Ukraine in Vilnius. That won’t happen.
A possible compromise, which is clearly not enough for the Ukrainian people, is that Ukraine is promised that like Sweden and Finland, it can enter NATO without going through the membership action plan. But that does not give Ukraine a time frame for when it will become a member.
We hope that Ukraine will improve its relations with NATO in the form of a council. A council would give Ukrainians a chance to sit in on every NATO meeting that matters. That is very important. Ukraine can sit in almost all NATO meetings and the council has equal status with other members.
How do you think NATO will talk to China?
I don’t think the communiqué is very different from the Madrid declaration last year, when NATO labeled China a “challenge” for the first time.
In NATO terms, that’s actually part of trying to make sure the alliance is aware of threats to trans-Atlantic relations. That includes Arctic routes, Chinese industrial espionage and less reliance on China for vital materials.
But NATO is not about to establish itself in Asia. The French reiterated very strongly that NATO is a trans-Atlantic organization and that it should not mess with Asia – and that Europe’s interests in Asia are not the same as America’s.
Yellen wraps up visit to China
After 10 hours of meetings over two days in Beijing, Janet Yellen, the treasury secretary, said the US and China will have more frequent communication at the highest level. In a press conference yesterday, he said he believes the countries are on a solid footing, despite “significant disagreements.”
The desire for more dialogue struck some analysts as a significant development, but many China and US experts cautioned against expecting much change. Notably, Yellen left Beijing yesterday with no announcements of breakthroughs or agreements to mend persistent rifts between the two countries.
Details: Yellen received a warm welcome in Beijing. She had lunch with a group of Chinese women economists and entrepreneurs. Yellen also met with Chinese experts on climate finance. Chinese state media wrote about his impressive use of chopsticks.
North Korean defectors are struggling to flee China
Most North Korean defectors try to reach South Korea through China. But Beijing’s ever-expanding surveillance state has made evading the authorities more challenging.
China uses its powerful surveillance technology to catch people on the run or track down unauthorized foreigners. When China does crack down on the flight of North Koreans, it often treats them as illegal migrants, not refugees, sending them back north to face punishment.
Vivek Ramaswamy is a US Republican presidential candidate – and a practicing Hindu. He is trying to win over conservative Christian voters, who make up a significant part of the party’s core voters, by creating a tone that the faiths have in common. But for many religious conservatives, the difference is an obstacle.
Lives: Yan Mingfu, who was Mao’s translator, tried to find a peaceful way out of the 1989 standoff between the Chinese Communist Party and student protesters in Tiananmen Square. He died at the age of 91.
ARTS AND IDEAS
A doomed love video game
Seema Ghulam Haider, a married Pakistani woman, fell in love with Sachin Meena, an Indian man, in 2019 while they were playing the popular online game PUBG. He is a Muslim; He is Hindu. A few years later, she entered India with her four children to be with him.
But their relationship was short-lived. Last week, Haider and his children were arrested for illegally entering the country. Meena and her father were also arrested, on lesser charges of conspiring to harbor an enemy. The men could face years in prison.
The couple’s romance sparked nationalist intrigue in India and Pakistan. It also addresses a religious debate: Interfaith relations, especially between Hindus and Muslims, are a minefield in both countries. Tensions were so high that even suspicious pigeons crossing the border were jailed on charges of espionage.
PLAY, WATCH, EAT
What to Cook
That’s it for today’s briefing. See you next time. — Amelia
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