During the Summit the members of the Alliance condemned Russia’s attack on Ukrainian civilians by striking a shopping mall and called it the biggest “direct threat” to the security of the West. President Volodymyr Zelensky appeared at the summit via video link and warned NATO members that Russia needs to be defeated within a year in order that the war is not seen as a collective failure by NATO and Ukraine.
He said: “Next year could be a worse situation – if not only Ukraine, but also several other states, possibly members of the alliance, come under fire from Russia.
“And then it will be our common failure – Ukraine and NATO.”
On Thursday, Putin’s forces continued with their attack on eastern Ukraine as Ukrainian officials attempted to evacuate residents from the front line in Lysychansk.
Lysychansk is the new focus of Russia’s attacks and around 15,000 residents stayed as their city underwent unrelenting shelling.
Regional Governor Serhiy Gaidai said on Ukrainian television: “Fighting is going on all the time.
“The Russians are constantly one the offensive. There is no let-up.
“Absolutely everything is being shelled.”
Meanwhile, according to one of President Zelensky’s advisors, in south Kherson Ukraine have been defending the city with artillery strikes and pushing back Russian forces.
READ MORE: The areas that could skewer Sturgeon’s IndyRef hopes – mapped
During the NATO summit in Madrid, the alliance opened up its membership to Sweden and Finland by formally inviting them to join the group on Wednesday following the increased threat from Russia on Western security.
NATO’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg also announced ahead of the summit 300,000 troop NATO defence overhaul on the eastern border of the alliance.
The new strategy which is currently a work in progress is increasing the number of rapid response troops sevenfold and sends a stronger message that the alliance is on high alert.
President Putin responded to the invite to Finland and Sweden with threats to the Alliance that Russia would respond in kind to the increase in what it would interpret as a threat to Russian security.
Britons divided over Royal Family’s future role in Commonwealth (POLL)
Meghan and Harry should not do from Jubilee tell-all interview (INSIGHT)
Scots turn against independence as more than half reject IndyRef2 (REVEAL)
Putin was also quoted by Russian news outlets that he would not rule out that tensions would increase between Moscow, Helsinki and Stockholm if they joined NATO.
Mr Stoltenberg said at a news conference: “President Putin’s war against Ukraine has shattered peace in Europe and has created the biggest security crisis in Europe since the Second World War.
“NATO has responded with strength and unity.”