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WORLD NEWS | EU leaders to assess Putin’s position in talks with NATO and Ukraine leaders at summit


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BRUSSELS, June 29 (AP) NATO Chief Jens Stoltenberg and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky took center stage at Thursday’s EU summit, highlighting the 27 EU leaders The emphasis placed on protecting the eastern flank from Russian aggression and strengthening Ukraine’s defense capabilities.

Zelensky spoke via video link and Stoltenberg attended the leaders’ brunch. But the biggest seat on the negotiating table is reserved for something not officially on the agenda: the aftermath of Russia’s shocking weekend mutiny and its implications for President Vladimir Putin’s rule.

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“The mutiny we saw over the weekend shows that there are cracks and divisions within the Russian system. At the same time, it’s important to emphasize that these are internal Russian affairs,” Stoltenberg said.

Zelensky has been blunt in his rebuttal to those who claim that an injured Putin would make him more unpredictable and dangerous.

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“We saw their weaknesses and that’s what we needed very much,” he said via video link. “The weaker Russia is, the more afraid its bosses are of mutiny and uprising, the more they are afraid of provoking us. Russia’s weakness will make it safe for others,” he said.

EU leaders certainly agree that Putin has taken a hit.

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda, one of several EU countries that share a border with Russia, insisted that was all the more reason to take a tough stance against Putin.

Some say that “a strong Putin is less dangerous than a weak Putin. I disagree with that. We must move forward and act decisively because this is a critical moment in history,” Nauseda said.

“It shows deep cracks in Putin’s system. There will also be aftershocks from last weekend’s insurgency,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said.

Officials from several member states and EU institutions said the chaos and instability caused by the insurgency would not only force the bloc to step up its support for Ukraine, pledging more ammunition, but also ensure that fighting and violence did not spill over into the bloc. itself.

Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Karas said: “There is no room for hesitation. We must continue to increase the price of Russian aggression.”

Even if the EU is reluctant to provide any comprehensive military guarantees, the prevailing sentiment is for leaders to adopt stronger language in the summit conclusions. In the latest draft, obtained by The Associated Press, the leaders said they “stand ready to work with partners to contribute to future security commitments to Ukraine that will help Ukraine defend itself, deter aggression, and resist destabilization over the long term.” the behavior of”. effort”.

Most EU countries are also NATO members and will seek to provide Ukraine with more security guarantees if they fail to become full NATO members at the July 11-12 alliance summit. This quest for more support is expected to be fully endorsed by the end of the two-day summit.

EU countries have also been providing billions of dollars in aid to bolster Ukraine’s military stockpile and keep the country’s battered economy afloat. EU leaders will also look more closely at using Russia’s frozen assets, estimated to be around 200 billion euros, for this purpose.

Some countries worry that the legal basis for doing so remains too shaky, and the ECB has warned that seizing these assets, or the profits derived from them, could pose serious risks to the euro’s reputation. Some countries want an additional windfall tax on money spent on Ukraine’s reconstruction, officials said.

“It’s like the low hanging fruit,” Karlins said of the frozen Russian assets. “We need to find a legal basis to use and mobilize these funds to help Russia pay for the damage it has caused.” (Associated Press)

(This is an unedited and auto-generated story from a syndicated news feed, the latest staff may not have revised or edited the body of content)


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