“There is a serious risk of a new armed conflict in Europe, but that’s exactly why today’s meeting and the other meetings taking place this week are so important because we will do what we can to prevent a new armed conflict,” said Jens. Stoltenberg, at a press conference held in Brussels.
In statements after a meeting between Moscow and the Atlantic Alliance (NATO-Russia Council) on the Russian military escalation on the border with Ukraine, the official added: “This is the reason why we are so clear in our message to Russia, that we are ready to sit down and review a wide range of issues such as arms control, reciprocal missile limits or many other issues to prevent a new armed conflict”.
Still, Jens Stoltenberg stressed that NATO “has eyes wide open”, so “it also sent a message to Russia that if they use military force, there will be severe consequences, such as economic sanctions, political sanctions”.
“And we provide practical support to Ukraine to strengthen its ability to defend itself,” he added.
The NATO leader recalled, however, that Ukraine is not a member of the Atlantic Alliance, so the allies can only give it “practical political support in many different ways”.
“I think it is very dangerous to start speculating too much about this real risk. [de conflito armado], but we are addressing that possibility by promoting dialogue in good faith, but also, in part, by being clear about the risks of disrupting those conversations”, concluded Jens Stoltenberg.
Ukraine and NATO have denounced in recent months the concentration of large numbers of Russian troops near the Ukrainian border, considering it to be a prelude to an invasion.
Westerners fear a possible Russian invasion of Ukrainian territory, such as the one in 2014 that culminated in the annexation of the Crimean peninsula.
The Kremlin (Russian Presidency) rejects having a war intention in these manoeuvres.
Russia, however, demanded the signing of treaties that prohibit any future expansion of the Atlantic Alliance and an end to Western military maneuvers near its borders, calling into question the European security architecture built after the Cold War, when several countries of the former bloc communists joined NATO.
On the eve of this NATO-Russia Council meeting, at the alliance’s headquarters in the Belgian capital, Russia announced the holding of new military exercises in four regions, three of them along the border with Ukraine, with the participation of almost 3,000 soldiers.
The NATO-Russia Council, a cooperation forum created in 2002, has not held a formal meeting since 2019.
ANE // SCA