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The Russian military on Thursday withdrew from Snake Island off of Ukraine's coast, easing some of the pressure on Odessa, the country's most important port. It came as NATO leaders concluded a key summit in Madrid. Nick Schifrin joins Judy Woodruff from Madrid to discuss the gains made by Ukraine and NATO's invitation to Sweden and Finland to join the alliance.
Today, the Russian military withdrew from a key island off Ukraine's coast, easing some of the pressure on Odessa, the country's most important port.
That small victory in the south as the war on the eastern front grinds on came as NATO leaders concluded a key summit in Madrid.
And that's where we find Nick Schifrin again tonight.
So, hello, Nick.
Now that this summit has ended, tell us what the leaders are saying about Ukraine and how they think the summit went.
President Biden and the other NATO leaders described an alliance revitalized because of Ukraine.
And President Biden mentioned that island Snake Island, which really came to symbolize Ukrainian resolve. The NATO leaders have especially celebrated their formal invitation to Sweden and Finland, a country that's been militarily nonaligned for decades, as a sign of alliance unity.
President Joe Biden:
Putin thought he could break the transatlantic alliance. He tried to weaken us. He expected our resolve to fracture. But he's getting exactly what he did not want. He wanted the Finlandization of NATO. He got the NATO-ization of Finland.
Leaders describe the deal between Turkey, Finland and Sweden that paved the way for that formal invitation as a breakthrough.
But, Judy, the process for those two countries to join has only just begun and has to go through all 30 NATO parliaments, including the U.S. Congress.
And, Nick, President Erdogan talked to the press today. What did he have to say about that episode, the fact that Turkey had blocked Finland and Sweden, but then changed its mind?
Yes, Erdogan and — said that Sweden and Finland would have to follow through on their promises. And he claimed that they promised to extradite 73 people and, if they didn't, he would not send their admission to NATO to the Turkish Parliament.
The only problem with that, Judy, is that the document they signed does not cite 73 people to extradite. In fact, it doesn't even guarantee a single extradition, as I challenged Erdogan earlier today.
The agreement that you signed with Finland and Sweden says that Finland and Sweden will address the extradition requests.
It does not say that Finland and Sweden will confirm Turkey's extradition requests. So are you asking Finland and Sweden to go beyond the language that you have agreed?
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkish President (through translator):
No. You have read the text. The thing is, what is important is what we understand. These 73 people, Sweden gave us a promise that it will extradite them. They will either extradite or not.
Multiple Western officials told me today that Erdogan would continue to extract as many concessions throughout this process as he could.
One of them will probably be American F-16s, a deal that President Biden endorsed this afternoon. But the fact is, Judy, until Finland and Sweden given to his demands, no matter what that text may say or doesn't say, Erdogan can stop their admission to NATO.
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Nick Schifrin is the foreign affairs and defense correspondent for PBS NewsHour, based in Washington, D.C. He leads NewsHour's foreign reporting and has created week-long, in-depth series for NewsHour from China, Russia, Ukraine, Nigeria, Egypt, Kenya, Cuba, Mexico, and the Baltics. The PBS NewsHour series "Inside Putin's Russia" won a 2018 Peabody Award and the National Press Club's Edwin M. Hood Award for Diplomatic Correspondence. In November 2020, Schifrin received the American Academy of Diplomacy’s Arthur Ross Media Award for Distinguished Reporting and Analysis of Foreign Affairs.
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