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Europe's week: G7 renew commitment to Ukraine and NATO to get new members

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By Stefan Grobe
G7 leaders' summit at Bavaria's Schloss Elmau castle, near Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, Sunday, June 26, 2022.
G7 leaders' summit at Bavaria's Schloss Elmau castle, near Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, Sunday, June 26, 2022.   -   Copyright  Lukas Barth/Reuters

In the Bavarian Alps, as in much of the world in recent months, Ukraine cast a long shadow.

At the G7 summit, the message was clear: the Western allies foresee a prolonged conflict in Ukraine, and they will continue to support the people of that country in their fight against Russia.

The G7 also vowed to "align and expand targeted sanctions to further restrict Russia’s access to key industrial inputs, services and technologies".

"As the G7, we are united in the assessment that this is therefore about very long-lasting changes that will also shape international relations for a very, very long time," said German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

"That is why it is also clear that in our relations with Russia there can be no going back to the time before the Russian attack on Ukraine."

While the resolve to sideline Russia and support Ukraine appears to hold firm at the moment, popular support to act against Moscow may wane as the war drags on and economies continue to suffer the pain.

For as the conflict has progressed, its effects have been felt far beyond Ukraine.

Food and fuel inflation continue to be on the rise and are hitting households and businesses everywhere.

Ukrainian leaders are worried that one day public opinion will get tired of the war, potentially questioning Western assistance, something that NATO vigorously rejected at its summit in Madrid this week.

"As long as it takes," said NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.

The military alliance is now set to welcome new members. Finland and Sweden struck a deal with Turkey that sees Ankara drop its objections to the two Nordic countries joining NATO.

In a statement, Turkish President Erdogan said he had obtained “full cooperation” from Finland and Sweden against Kurdish PKK fighters and their allies, after more than three hours of discussions on Tuesday in Madrid, on the sidelines of the NATO summit.

After the talks, Stoltenberg said “we now have an agreement that paves the way for Finland and Sweden to join NATO.”

"As a result of that meeting, our foreign ministers signed a trilateral memorandum which confirms that Turkey will at the Madrid Summit this week support the invitation of Finland and Sweden to become members of NATO," Finland's President Sauli Niinistö said in a statement released by his office. 

According to Rafael Loss, a project coordinator at the European Council on Foreign Relations, the alliance will be stronger with the two Nordic countries.

"It will make NATO more secure, and it will make Sweden and Finland more secure," Loss told Euronews.

"Both countries will add enormous military capabilities to the alliance and consolidate democratic decision-making processes domestically. Both will support NATO's own defence posture and dialogue within the alliance."