NATO chief issues new warning to Russia
If Russia takes steps to try to force NATO out of Eastern Europe, the US led-military bloc's presence in the region will only increase, its top official has warned amid a growing standoff between Moscow and the West.
Speaking at the Munich Security Conference in Germany on Saturday, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that “in response to Russia’s pattern of aggressive actions, we have been strengthening our deterrence and defense across the alliance to avoid any miscalculation or misunderstanding about our ironclad commitment to defend each other.”
“So, if the Kremlin’s aim is to have less NATO on its borders, it will only get more NATO. And if it wants to divide NATO, it will only get an even more united alliance.”
At the same time, Stoltenberg insisted that NATO was a defensive alliance “not threatening Russia or anyone else.”
The NATO chief made his remarks after Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova accused the bloc of employing “the tactic of escalation for the sake of de-escalation.”
Moscow has repeatedly stated that it views NATO troops along its borders as a threat and wants legally binding assurances that the alliance will stop expanding eastward. NATO, meanwhile, has refused to drop its longstanding ‘open-door policy’ of admitting new member states.
Western countries have been accusing Russia of gearing up to invade Ukraine. Moscow, however, denies having any plan to attack its neighbor, insisting that the movement of troops in western Russia and Belarus has been part of routine exercises.