Nato leaders vowed to support Ukraine at a critical time for as long as it takes to avoid defeat at the hands of Russia as President Joe Biden declared the US would send more military aid to Kyiv, including a new advanced air defence system.
Speaking on Thursday in Madrid at the end of a summit in which the 30-member alliance launched a new strategic concept, Mr Biden said another $800 million in defence assistance for Ukraine would be announced in the next few days. The tranche would include a “new advanced western air defence system”.
The move came after Boris Johnson said Britain would ship another $1.2 billion in weapons to Ukraine, comprising 5,000 shoulder-fired missiles and other weaponry.
Mr Biden reiterated Nato's Article 5 commitment to defend "every inch of Nato territory".
"The United States is rallying the world to stand with Ukraine,” he said. "We are going to stick with Ukraine and all of the alliance are going to stick with Ukraine, as long as it takes to make sure they are not defeated by Russia.
"Ukraine has already dealt a severe blow to Russia." The US President insisted the conflict would not end with a Russian victory in Ukraine.
His remarks came as something of a retort to President Vladimir Putin, who on Thursday threatened to take countermeasures as two Nordic countries on Russia’s doorstep were formally invited to join the alliance.
“If military contingents and infrastructure are deployed there, we will have to respond in kind and create the same threats against the territories from which threats are created against us,” Mr Putin said.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Mr Putin's claim that Nato was expanding its imperialistic ambitions was "ridiculous". Western military alliance was "not a threat to anyone" and it was Mr Putin "who has made imperialism the goal of his politics", Mr Scholz said.
Mr Biden pointed out that Nato was extending its common border with Finland by 800 miles and called the two countries serious military players. He said Mr Putin wanted to see Europe take on Finland-style neutrality but had ended up with the "Nato-isation" of Finland and Sweden.
The two countries signed the protocols for membership in Madrid, potentially expanding the alliance from 30 to 32 members. Sweden and Finland will not be full members until all 30 members ratify the protocol, a process which could take many months. Then the countries will be protected by Nato's mutual, collective undertakings.
Jens Stoltenberg, Nato’s Secretary General, said the alliance had “addressed how Russia and China continue to seek political, economic and military gain across our southern neighbourhood”.
“Both Moscow and Beijing are using economic leverage, coercion and hybrid approaches to advance their interests in the region,” he said on Thursday. “So today, we discussed how to address this growing challenge, including with even more support for Nato’s partners in the region.”
Asked about Russia’s potential response to their accession, Mr Stoltenberg said the alliance was “prepared for any eventuality", but noted that “what we see now in Ukraine demonstrates that Russia is fully focused on that war”.
“At the same time we also know that this can get worse, because if this becomes a full-scale war between Russia and Nato, then we will see suffering, damage, death, destruction at the scale which is much, much worse then what we have seen in Ukraine,” Mr Stoltenberg said.
He said member states revived the alliance’s progress in the fight against terrorism in “all its forms and manifestation".
The final session at the Madrid Summit focused on threats and challenges from the Middle East, North Africa, and the Sahel region.
“Insecurity in these regions has a direct impact on the security of all Allies. And our new Strategic Concept identifies terrorism as one of the main threats to our security,” Mr Stoltenberg said.
Boris Johnson said the UK will fork out 2.5 per cent of its GDP on defence by the end of the decade, above the current Nato target of 2 per cent for defence spending.
The UK leader welcomed the news that Russian forces had pulled out of Snake Island in the Black Sea, calling it a harbinger of progress for Ukraine. "I think that they do have the potential to turn this round," he said. "We’ve seen what Ukraine can do to drive the Russians back. We’ve seen what they did around Kyiv, around Kharkiv and now on Snake Island. I think the right thing for us is to keep going on the course that Nato has set out no matter, no matter how difficult it is.
"They do see a way in which they can change the dynamic this year, in the next few months. And I think that’s important and I think it means we have to to help them as much as we can."
China accused Nato 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”.
Nato leaders turned their gaze south for a final summit session on Thursday, focused on Africa’s Sahel region and the Middle East, where political instability — aggravated by climate change and food insecurity exacerbated by the war in Ukraine — is driving large numbers of migrants towards Europe.