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15 Mar, 2021 18:43

NATO changes tone: Chief of US-led bloc tells EU officials its members face ‘no imminent military threat’ from Russia or China

NATO changes tone: Chief of US-led bloc tells EU officials its members face ‘no imminent military threat’ from Russia or China

There is no imminent threat of a military attack from Russia – or China – against any NATO member states, but the bloc’s very existence is the main reason for this situation, its Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has told the EU.

Stoltenberg made the statement – somewhat unusual given NATO’s typically harsh anti-Russia rhetoric – during an address to the European Parliament's Committee on Foreign Affairs on Monday.

“I was asked about whether I see any threat against NATO allies from China or from Russia. I don't see any imminent threat of a military attack against any NATO ally,” he said.

“But one reason for that is that we have NATO” and its system of “all for one and one for all” collective defense, the Secretary General said – a reference to Article 5 of the NATO treaty, which stipulates that an attack on one member state triggers a response from the whole alliance.

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"That's one of the main reasons why we’ve been able to preserve peace in Europe for more than 70 years,” he insisted.

However, one shouldn’t expect a major shift in NATO’s relations with Moscow and Beijing, as Stoltenberg still lamented what he called “Russia’s destabilizing behavior” and “the rise of China” among the main security challenges for the bloc – along with terrorism, cyberattacks and climate change.

Last month, the NATO head insisted that the military alliance of 30 European states and the North American countries would be “glad” to cooperate with Russia, but was also “ready” for a confrontation if the need arises. He also called for more funds to be allocated to boost the bloc’s presence near Russia’s borders.

Tensions between NATO and Moscow have been running high since 2014 when Crimea rejoined Russia following a referendum, which the West refuses to recognise, amid the conflict in eastern Ukraine. The bloc responded by deploying more troops and military hardware in Eastern Europe, while sharply intensifying aerial and naval patrols in the region.

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Contrary to repeated claims from Poland, the Baltic States and others, Moscow has denied harboring aggressive intentions against any NATO members – and has labeled the alliance’s buildup and military games on its doorstep as a major security threat for the continent, arguing that it only increases the chances of real conflict.

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