NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Tuesday that the alliance will make a written proposal to the Kremlin later this week in order to “attempt to find a path ahead” amid rising tensions over Russia’s army buildup on Ukraine’s border with the European Union.
“We will state that we are prepared to sit down… and address subjects such as arms control, disarmament, transparency in military operations, risk reduction procedures, and other issues that are relevant to the security of Europe. In addition, to take the time to listen to Russian concerns, “Stoltenberg said the statement.
NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said last week the Western military alliance would send written proposals to Russia in response to Moscow’s security demands. The proposals would suggest serious talks on arms control as well as measures to ensure greater transparency over military activities and missile deployments, Stoltenberg said.
A day earlier, NATO said that certain member countries were putting forces on alert and sending more ships and fighter jets to Eastern Europe. Stoltenberg’s statements came as a surprise.
Following months of military manoeuvring by Moscow, which has triggered a tit-for-tat series of escalation with NATO, the moves signalled growing concerns about a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine. Earlier this year, the European Union expressed concern about a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Speaking from Brussels, Stoltenberg stated that there is “still a diplomatic way out” of the Russia-Ukraine crisis, “but that requires that Russia de-escalates and is willing to engage in good faith in political talks with NATO and NATO allies.” Stoltenberg also stated that the United States is “still committed to a diplomatic solution” to the crisis.
Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko of Russia and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg of the United States arrive for the NATO-Russia Council at NATO’s headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, on January 12, 2019.
Thousands of Russian troops have been stationed along the Ukrainian border since last year, and troops will be moved to neighbouring Belarus for joint drills next month, which Ukrainian officials worry would serve as a “full-fledged theatre of operations” from which to launch an attack.
Ukraine’s NATO support, the Kremlin has said, represents a rising threat to Russia’s western flank, despite the fact that the country has repeatedly rejected any such plans.
“NATO will not deploy combat troops to Ukraine, but we must ensure that there is no misunderstanding about our readiness and commitment to defend all allies, particularly in the eastern part of the alliance,” Stoltenberg said in an interview with CNN, explaining that the alliance had increased its presence in the eastern part of the alliance, particularly in the Black Sea and Baltic regions, as a result of the conflict in Ukraine.
On Monday, NATO revealed that member countries had announced a number of deployments to Eastern Europe in recent days, according to a statement. Denmark has deployed a frigate to the Baltic Sea as well as four F-16 fighter jets to Lithuania; the Netherlands has deployed two F-35 fighter jets to Bulgaria; France has indicated that it is prepared to send troops to Romania; and the United States is considering increasing its military presence in the Middle East and Central Asia. According to the statement, there was no indication that the troops would be deployed to aid Ukraine, which is not a member of NATO.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told CNN that the alliance was considering whether to strengthen its stance further by deploying “more forward presence or battlegroups, particularly in the southeast of the alliance.”
“Strong deterrence is the most effective means of preventing any attack on any NATO ally, as well as the most effective means of preventing a confrontation,” he continued.
High-level discussions between the West and Russia came to a close earlier this month without yielding any significant results, casting uncertainty on the possibilities for de-escalation and future diplomacy. While the United States and its NATO allies had anticipated that the talks would compel Russia to take a path of “de-escalation and diplomacy,” Russian officials were outraged by the United States and NATO’s refusal to consider their long-standing demand for more security in the region.
A restriction on Ukraine joining NATO and a reversal of the alliance’s expansion in Eastern Europe are among the demands made by the activists.
The United States and its NATO partners have stated on numerous occasions that such ideas from Moscow are non-starters.