Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez arrives for the NATO summit in Madrid, Spain, on Thursday, June 30, 2022. North Atlantic Treaty Organization heads of state will meet for a NATO summit in Madrid from Tuesday through Thursday. (AP Photo)

MADRID (AP) — NATO was facing rebukes from Moscow and Beijing on Thursday after it declared Russia a “direct threat” and said China posed “serious challenges ” to global stability.

The Western military alliance was wrapping up a summit in Madrid, where it issued a stark warning that the world has been plunged into a dangerous phase of big-power competition and myriad threats, from cyberattacks to climate change.

NATO leaders also formally invited Finland and Sweden to join the alliance, after overcoming opposition from Turkey. If the Nordic nations’ accession is approved by the 30 member nations, it will give NATO a new 800-mile (1,300 kilometer) border with Russia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin warned he would respond in kind if the Nordic nations allowed NATO troops and military infrastructure onto their territory. He said Russia will have to “create the same threats for the territory from which threats against us are created.”

China accused the alliance of “maliciously attacking and smearing” the country. Its mission to the European Union said NATO “claims that other countries pose challenges, but it is NATO that is creating problems around the world.”

Netherland’s Prime Minister Mark Rutte arrives for the NATO summit in Madrid, Spain, on Thursday, June 30, 2022. North Atlantic Treaty Organization heads of state will meet for a NATO summit in Madrid from Tuesday through Thursday. (AP Photo)

Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told the summit that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine had brought “the biggest overhaul of our collective defense since the end of the Cold War.”

The invasion shattered Europe’s peace, and in response NATO has poured troops and weapons into eastern Europe on a scale unseen in decades. Member nations have given Ukraine billions in military and civilian aid to strengthen its resistance.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who addressed the summit by video link, asked for more. He urged NATO to send modern artillery systems and other weapons and warned the leaders they either had to provide Kyiv with the help it needed or “face a delayed war between Russia and yourself.”

“The question is, who’s next? Moldova? Or the Baltics? Or Poland? The answer is: all of them,” he said.

At the summit, NATO leaders agreed to dramatically scale up military force along the alliance’s eastern flank, where countries from Romania to the Baltic states worry about Russia’s future plans.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, right speaks with U.S. President Joe Biden during a visit to the Prado museum with heads of state and dignitaries in Madrid, Spain, Wednesday, June 29, 2022. North Atlantic Treaty Organization heads of state are meeting for a NATO summit in Madrid from Tuesday through Thursday. (AP Photo)

It announced plans to increase almost eightfold the size of the alliance’s rapid reaction force, from 40,000 to 300,000 troops, by next year. The troops will be based in their home nations but dedicated to specific countries in the east, where the alliance plans to build up stocks of equipment and ammunition.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz arrives for the NATO summit in Madrid, Spain, on Thursday, June 30, 2022. North Atlantic Treaty Organization heads of state will meet for a NATO summit in Madrid from Tuesday through Thursday. (AP Photo)

President Joe Biden, whose country provides the bulk of NATO’s firepower, announced a hefty boost in America’s military presence in Europe, including a permanent U.S. base in Poland, two more Navy destroyers based in Rota, Spain, and two more F35 squadrons to the U.K.

Related video: NATO labels China a security threat

NATO identifies China as major military and strategic rival, Russia as security threat

This year’s NATO summit has been historic in many ways: expansion, an updated strategic concept that includes new threats from Russia and China, and significant military asset pledges from members including U.S. President Joe Biden. Sweden and Finland are going to become NATO members in one of the biggest shifts in European security in decades after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine pushed them to drop their stance of neutrality. NATO’s “master plan” now states clearly that Russia poses a direct threat to the alliance’s security.

The expansion will keep 100,000 troops in Europe for the foreseeable future, up from 80,000 before the war in Ukraine began.

Biden said Putin had believed NATO members would splinter after he invaded Ukraine, but he got the opposite response.

“Putin was looking for the Finland-ization of Europe,” Biden said. “You’re gonna get the NATO-ization of Europe. And that’s exactly what he didn’t want, but exactly what needs to be done to guarantee security for Europe.”

Still, strains among NATO allies have also emerged as the cost of energy and other essential goods has skyrocketed, partly because of the war and tough Western sanctions on Russia. There also are tensions over how the war will end and what, if any, concessions Ukraine should make.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson arrives for the NATO summit in Madrid, Spain, on Thursday, June 30, 2022. North Atlantic Treaty Organization heads of state will meet for a NATO summit in Madrid from Tuesday through Thursday. (AP Photo)

Money remains a sensitive issue — just nine of NATO’s 30 members currently meet the organization’s target of spending 2% of gross domestic product on defense.

At what Stoltenberg called a “transformative” summit, the leaders published NATO’s new Strategic Concept, its once-a-decade set of priorities and goals.

The last such document, in 2010, called Russia a “strategic partner.” Now, NATO is accusing Russia of using “coercion, subversion, aggression and annexation” to extend its reach.

The 2010 document made no mention of China, but the new one addressed Bejing’s growing economic and military reach.

“China is not our adversary, but we must be clear-eyed about the serious challenges it represents,” Stoltenberg said on Wednesday.

NATO said that China “strives to subvert the rules-based international order, including in the space, cyber and maritime domains” and warned of its close ties with Moscow.

The alliance said, however, that it remained “open to constructive engagement” with Beijing.

China shot back that NATO was a source of instability and vowed to defend its interests.

“Since NATO positions China as a ‘systemic challenge,’ we have to pay close attention and respond in a coordinated way. When it comes to acts that undermine China’s interests, we will make firm and strong responses,” its statement said.

NATO also stressed the need to address political instability in Africa’s Sahel region and the Middle East — aggravated by “climate change, fragile institutions, health emergencies and food insecurity” — that is driving large numbers of migrants toward Europe. Host Spain and other European countries pushed for this new focus.

___

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India boosts military presence as
border talks with China remain stalled


On volatile border between India and China, a high-altitude military buildup is underway

0003

A close-up of a heliport under construction in Rutog County.

0001

On volatile border between India and China, a high-altitude military buildup is underway

0004

Construction crews are now scattered around Ladakh as Indian authorities speed up their infrastructure race with China.

0005

An overview of a heliport under construction near Aksai Chin Lake, in a region administered by China but contested by India, on May 28.

0002

An overview of a heliport under construction in Rutog County in the Ngari Prefecture of the Tibet Autonomous Region of China, on Nov. 28.

0003 0001 0004 0005 0002

BEIJING’S ISLAND-BUILDING IN THE SOUTH CHINA SEA

Runway

Runway

China is expanding the construction of its facilities on Fiery Cross Reef. Provided by the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI), this June 28, 2015 photo reveals Beijing has nearly completed a 3,000 meter (9,800-foot) airstrip, long enough to accommodate most Chinese military aircraft. Two h...

Expansion

Expansion

Reclamation on Fiery Cross Reef, which lies on the west side of the Spratly Islands, began in August of 2014 and its principal landmass was finished by November. Dredgers have created a land mass that spans the entire existing reef and is approximately 3,000 meters long and 200-300 meters wide.

Facilities

Facilities

This picture taken last November shows construction work being carried out on Fiery Cross Reef. The reef reportedly already houses a helicopter landing pad, a 300-meter-long wharf, a harbor large enough to dock military tankers, barracks and artillery emplacements.

South Johnson Reef

South Johnson Reef

This reef was one of the first facilities to finish principal land reclamation. This recent picture shows that a radar tower is nearing completion at the north end of the land mass. According to AMTI, a new large multi-level military facility has been built in the center of the island. Up to six sur...

A naval base?

A naval base?

Beginning in early 2015, Mischief Reef - also located in the Spratlys - has undergone extensive reclamation activity. Experts say that the recent widening of the southern entrance to the reef, coupled with sightings of Chinese navy vessels, may suggest a future role for the reclaimed reef as a naval...

From reef to island

From reef to island

Significant construction on Gaven Reef began in 2014, with a total of 114,000 square meters of land already created. Satellite pictures show just how fast construction has progressed on the reef. A new artificial island was created between March (left) and August (right) 2014.

Troop garrison

Troop garrison

According to AMTI, China has had a troop garrison on Gaven Reef since 2003, which has included a large supply platform where ships can dock. Experts say a new main square building in the reef appears to be an anti-aircraft tower.

A standardized process

A standardized process

As seen in this image, the basic process of expanding these features involves dredging sand from the seafloor and dumping it onto the reefs. The structure is raised above the high water line, hiding the status of the bank or reef beneath. The sand is then smoothed out and workers surround the island...

'Historic rights'

'Historic rights'

China claims most of the potentially energy-rich waterway, through which $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year. The US Pacific Fleet commander recently said China was "creating a great wall of sand" in the South China Sea, causing serious concerns about its territorial intentions. Beijin...

Territorial disputes

Territorial disputes

The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also have overlapping claims, which have led to territorial disputes in the area. Last summer, China's deployment of a massive oil rig in waters also claimed by Hanoi escalated tensions in the region, sparking a standoff at sea and violent anti-C...

US concerns

US concerns

Washington is concerned China's efforts carry a military dimension that could undermine the US' naval and economic power in the Pacific, and has weighed sending warships and surveillance aircraft within 12 nautical miles of the new artificial islands. Washington has repeatedly called on Beijing and ...

Ecological impact

Ecological impact

The Philippines filed a formal plea at the UN last year, challenging Beijing's territorial claims. Manila said China's reclamation activities are causing "irreversible and widespread damage to the biodiversity and ecological balance of the South China Sea." It also claimed that the destruction of co...

Runway Expansion Facilities South Johnson Reef A naval base? From reef to island Troop garrison A standardized process 'Historic rights' Territorial disputes US concerns Ecological impact

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