Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko expressed guarded optimism Thursday that a peace initiative advanced by Russia can bring a quick end to his country’s months-long conflict.
But Western allies promised an immediate escalation of sanctions against Moscow if the negotiations, planned for Friday, turn out to be “a smoke screen” for further Russian intervention in a war that threatens to unravel the core tenets of European security.
The comments came as NATO leaders gathered at a golf resort in the gentle hill country of southern Wales to hammer out new strategies to confront an arc of crises, from a revived Russian threat to the well-armed and highly organized extremist army that has conquered vast swaths of the Middle East.
After more than a decade in which the world’s most powerful military alliance focused single-mindedly on a distant war — in Afghanistan — NATO leaders find themselves grappling with a panoply of threats that strike far closer to home.
The leaders offered no definitive answers for how they would confront the growing instability. But within the first hours of this two-day summit — which brings together 60 world leaders, including NATO allies and partners — President Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron indicated they were prepared for a more aggressive Western role.