Skip to main content

Ukrainian servicemen carry a fragment of a rocket outside a building in Kyiv on March 24, 2022.SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/Getty Images

U.S. President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will join other world leaders at NATO headquarters in Brussels Thursday for an emergency summit where delegates will discuss plans to strengthen the Western military alliance, particularly along its eastern flank, and contingencies in case Russia uses nuclear or chemical weapons in its invasion of Ukraine.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Wednesday afternoon, in the first of two days of meetings in the Belgian capital, that the leaders were expected to agree to deploy four new battlegroups to Bulgaria, Hungary, Slovakia and Romania, announce new sanctions against Russia and tighten those that already exist.

Mr. Stoltenberg demanded that Russia “stop its nuclear sabre-rattling.” While the North Atlantic Treaty Organization has plans in place in case of nuclear and chemical strikes, he said such attacks would threaten not just Ukraine but also the country’s neighbours, who would be hit by the fallout.

Meanwhile, the United States and its Western allies are assessing whether Russia should remain within the Group of 20 countries. China, which has not condemned Russia’s invasion and criticized Western sanctions, defended Moscow on Wednesday, calling Russia an “important member” of the G20.

Mr. Stoltenberg told reporters that China’s decision to spread “blatant lies and disinformation” about the conflict would be another point of discussion during Thursday’s summit. He added that NATO members were worried about Beijing’s move to join Moscow in questioning the right of independent countries to choose their own path.

“I expect leaders will call on China to live up to its responsibilities as a member of the UN Security Council, refrain from supporting Russia’s war effort, and join the rest of the world in calling for an immediate, peaceful end to this war,” he said.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Thursday said he has been raising concerns about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s plans to attend the next G20 summit in Indonesia, later this year.

“The idea of sitting around a table with Vladimir Putin, who the United States are already in the position of calling out [for] war crimes in Ukraine, for me is a step too far,” Mr. Morrison said during a media briefing in Sydney.

In Kyiv, Ukraine’s leader called for solidarity on Thursday, a month since Russia’s invasion began, warning that he would see who sells out at summits in Europe where restrictions on energy could prove divisive.

The humanitarian toll in the conflict continues to rise and has driven a quarter of Ukraine’s population of 44 million from their homes. President Volodymyr Zelensky asked people around the world to take to the streets and demand an end to the war.

“Come from your offices, your homes, your schools and universities, come in the name of peace, come with Ukrainian symbols to support Ukraine, to support freedom, to support life,” he said in a video address.

Mr. Trudeau, in a speech to the European Parliament in Brussels on Wednesday evening, said Russia’s unprovoked war on Ukraine must come with “ruinous costs” for Moscow, spurred by European and global leaders uniting with a “deliberate, mindful effort” to safeguard democracy.

This is Mr. Trudeau’s second visit to Europe in the past month.

In a speech to the European Parliament, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau urged leaders to come together as democracies in the face of Russia's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine and tackle rising uncertainties citizens have about the future.

The Canadian Press

During his address, he stressed the importance of transatlantic co-operation to defend democracy in the face of the invasion, as well as humanitarian and military aid, and developing plans to rebuild the country after the war.

He also told the Parliament that the bloc has Canada’s full support as it squeezes Russia economically and politically in a bid to end the conflict.

He made his speech after a broader debate in the Parliament about the importance of further European sanctions on Russia. It’s a point Mr. Trudeau echoed, saying, “We must ensure that the decision to invade a sovereign, independent country is understood to be a strategic failure that carries with it ruinous costs.”

Global energy players, meanwhile, continue wrestling with what to do in the face of uncertainty over oil and gas supplies.

Swaths of Europe are hugely reliant on Russian fossil fuels. That’s particularly true in Germany, which has repeatedly resisted calls to put sanctions on Moscow’s energy businesses, citing economic concerns. Chancellor Olaf Scholz did so again Wednesday, just as Mr. Putin announced that his country would accept only rubles for payment for the crucial gas it ships to Europe.

As NATO leaders discuss joint action to enhance energy security in Europe on Thursday, the topic will also be on the table for energy ministers 320 kilometres away at a two-day International Energy Agency summit in Paris.

The agency’s executive director, Fatih Birol, has said he would use the meeting to persuade energy ministers to reduce the world’s reliance on Russian crude (which accounts for about 8 per cent of global supplies), helped in part by accelerating the transition off fossil fuels to clean energy.

Oil markets will also be watching Thursday’s NATO meeting closely, with tough measures against Moscow raising the spectre of a global supply crunch.

Louise Dickson, the senior oil analyst at data company Rystad Energy, said in a research note that if the EU shuns oil originating from Russian ports and pipelines, it will put a dent of more than two million barrels a day in the market, keeping prices elevated near US$120.

Russia has threatened to turn off gas supplies to Europe in the case of an EU oil embargo, Ms. Dickson added, which has only added to short-term market volatility.

With a report from Reuters