Finland must apply to join the NATO military alliance "without delay," Finnish President Sauli Niinisto and Prime Minister Sanna Marin said on Thursday, a major policy shift triggered by Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Finland, which shares a 1,300 kilometer border and a difficult past with Russia, has gradually stepped up its cooperation with the bloc as a partner since Russia annexed Crimea in 2014. This could be due to a conflict with your ad-blocking or security software. Please add japantimes.co.jp and piano.io to your list of allowed sites. If this does not resolve the issue or you are unable to add the domains to your allowlist, please see out this support page.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has blamed NATO for the war in Ukraine and said he would resist calls to condemn Russia, in comments that cast doubt over whether he would be accepted by Ukraine or the West as a mediator. Ramaphosa, who was speaking on Thursday in parliament, said: "The war could have been avoided if NATO had heeded the warnings from amongst its own leaders and officials over the years that its eastward expansion would lead to greater, not less, instability in the region." But he added that South Africa "cannot condone the use of force and violation of international law" – an apparent reference to Russia's February 24 invasion of Ukraine. President Vladimir Putin has characterised Russia's actions as a "special operation" to disarm and "denazify" Ukraine and counter what he calls NATO aggression. Kyiv and its Western allies believe Russia launched the unprovoked war to subjugate a neighbour Putin calls an artificial state.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has been invited to the G20 summit in November, which will be attended by his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, according to the leader of host nation Indonesia. "I have invited President Zelenskyy to attend the G20 summit," said President Joko Widodo, suggesting a compromise had been reached following Western pressure to bar Russia from the event in response to its invasion of Ukraine. Putin confirmed in a phone call with Widodo he would participate in the summit, due to take place on Bali island, the Indonesian president said in a live-streamed address. Meanwhile, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said that while Russia was preparing for this year's G20 summit in Indonesia, it has not yet decided whether Putin will attend in person or virtually. Russia is a G20 member, while Ukraine is not.
The odds of a Russian invasion of Ukraine are increasing, with thousands of Russian troops stationed near the two countries' border. Vladimir Putin is set on ensuring Ukraine gives up its ambitions to join NATO and the European Union, and it's unclear how much he's willing to risk to meet that objective. How far will the Russian leader go to get what he wants? Is there any way to end the standoff without violence? If you enjoy this show, please consider signing up for Slate Plus.