'Russia is at war with us' says ex-NATO Commander
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Ukraine is being helped by several western governments, including the UK, to push back Russia’s offensive and restore its land borders. Since Vladimir Putin ordered his troops into Ukraine in February, nations around Europe have sent defensive weapons and funds in an effort to reduce Russia’s numerical and technological advantage on the battlefield.
The military alliance describes itself as ‘the world’s strongest and most powerful alliance’ and has members around the world.
Article Five is a NATO rule which means an attack on one member in the alliance is an attack on all, essentially triggering the beginning of World War 3.
Sweden and Finland acted quickly following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and announced their applications for NATO membership.
But Russia is not alone in the world and several countries have close ties – including some of the world’s strongest superpowers.
Who are Russia’s allies?
China and Russia are considered to be close allies and this was confirmed by Chinese leader Xi Jinping in a phone call with Mr Putin earlier this month.
Mr Xi said China is “ready to work with the Russian side to push for steady and long-term development of practical bilateral cooperation.”
China has long positioned itself with Russia on the world stage such as after the invasion of Crimea in 2014 when China abstained on a UN Security Council vote condemning the attack.
Beijing boasts one of the world’s most powerful armies and it is thought the People’s Liberation Army has around two million active-duty soldiers in total.
Russia also has several allies in the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) which is mostly made up of former Soviet Union states.
Armenia enjoys close ties with Russia as well as Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan in Central Asia.
Belarus is Russia’s closest friend in Europe and Ukraine has accused the country of providing a platform for Russian troops to launch attacks against it.
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How does NATO compare?
NATO members include some of the world’s most advanced countries such as the United States, France, Germany and the UK.
NATO currently has thousands of troops stationed in eastern Europe in Estonia, Latvia and Poland to defend against any threats from Russia.
Until now, NATO’s response force near Ukraine, Russia and Belarus had about 40,000 troops.
But it recently announced its members would increase the number of troops on high alert to 300,000 in a bid to counter Russia’s growing threat.
General Secretary of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg, said the increase in soldiers is the “biggest overhaul of our collective deterrence and defence since the Cold War”.
NATO has cooperation agreements with countries around the world including Japan, Mongolia, and Kazakhstan.
NATO has also been developing closer ties with Australia since 2005 and considers the island nation to be a key partner in addressing “shared security challenges”.
Some NATO members took part in the G7 Summit in Madrid this week where the group announced it is “steadfast” in its support of Ukraine.
A published statement read: “We, the Leaders of the Group of Seven (G7), are steadfast in our solidarity with Ukraine, and reaffirm our unwavering commitment to support the government and people of Ukraine in their courageous defence of their country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and in their fight for a peaceful, prosperous and democratic future.”
Russia’s soldiers in Ukraine suffered a series of defeats in the days after it invaded and Ukraine’s army was able to push them back to the east and south of the country.
But Mr Putin’s army is now making steady gains in eastern Ukraine and NATO chiefs will be planning for all outcomes if they progress further toward Europe.
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