Putin issues warning over Finland and Sweden’s NATO bids

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Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a fresh warning over Finland and Sweden’s bids to join NATO, saying while Russia was not bothered if the two countries joined the bloc, it would “respond symmetrically” to any military or infrastructure build up.

Here are the latest headlines.

  • NATO enlargement: NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg called the formal invitation from the alliance to Sweden and Finland to join the defense bloc “a historic decision.” The invitation sparks a seven-step accession process. Meanwhile, Putin warned Russia would respond in kind to any “threats.”
  • Eastern flank bolstered: NATO’s leaders also unveiled a significant strengthening of forces along the bloc’s eastern edge, with President Joe Biden announcing the US would bolster its force posture in several European countries. Latvia’s Prime Minister called the decision a “very, very clear signal to Moscow.”
  • Putin denies mall attack: The Russian President denied Moscow was behind a strike on a shopping center in central Ukraine that killed at least 18 people with dozens missing and wounded. “The Russian army does not attack any civilian site,” he claimed. Russia’s Defense Ministry previously said it hit military targets but video from the city of Kremenchuk shows the mall obliterated by a missile.
  • Mykolaiv missile attacks: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said 10 Russian missiles hit “civilian targets” in the southern city on Wednesday, killing at least five people. The assault “proves for absolutely everyone in the world that the pressure on Russia is not enough,” Zelensky said in his nightly address.
  • “Constant shelling” of Lysychansk: Russian forces attempting to storm the eastern Ukrainian city — where some 15,000 people remain — are maintaining “constant shelling,” the head of the Luhansk region military administration said. “Now the density of fire is so strong. So much that we can only put 30 people on a bus,” the military chief said.
  • Widodo meets with Zelensky and Putin: Indonesian President Joko Widodo traveled to Kyiv on Wednesday, where he met with Zelensky and extended a personal invitation to the G20 summit in Bali in November. He is expected to travel to Moscow on Thursday to meet Putin and said he hoped to “build dialogue, stop war and build peace.”