The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) sent written responses to Russia to the proposals for Moscow to change the European security landscape, which included the requirement that the Alliance no longer accept new countries as members.
“Today NATO has transmitted its proposals in writing to Russia. We have done it in parallel to the United States”, declared the allied secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, during a press conference.
Stoltenberg acknowledged that tensions are growing and that Russia continues with the military build-up, with more troops around Ukraine, also in Belarus, where “it is in the process of deploying thousands of combat troops, hundreds of planes, defense systems S400 airlift and many other highly advanced capabilities,” which is done “under the guise of an exercise.”
“Although we hope and work for a good solution, the de-escalation, we also prepare for the worst and, therefore, in parallel with our efforts on the path of dialogue, we are also increasing the preparation of our forces and NATO allies. They have also increased their presence, including in the Black and Baltic Sea regions, with more ships and planes,” he explained.
He specified that this increase seeks to monitor the development of events around Ukraine, but also provide “peace of mind” to allies.
He added that the NATO Response Force’s readiness was increased “a few weeks ago” and that its main element, the 5,000-strong Rapid Reaction Force, can be deployed “in days,” while other additional troops can be deployed ” at short notice”.
He said the written responses have made it “clear” to Russia that the Alliance will not “compromise some of its core principles,” including “that every nation has the right to choose its own path,” referring to the possibility that Ukraine or other countries ask to join NATO.
In this sense, he recalled that the decisions on the entry of new countries are made by the interested State itself and the thirty allies.
He assured that NATO sees room for progress, first of all, in relations between the Alliance and the Kremlin, after Russia closed its NATO delegation and allied offices in Moscow last year.
“We should restore our respective offices in Brussels and Moscow,” he said, also urging using existing military communication channels “to promote transparency and reduce risks,” as well as exploring the establishment of a civilian hotline for “use of emergency”.
Second, on the security situation in Europe and the tension in Ukraine, Stoltenberg said that the allies are prepared to “listen to Russia’s concerns and engage in a real conversation about how to improve and strengthen the fundamental principles of European security. that we have all signed.
“This includes the right of each nation to choose its own security arrangements. Russia should refrain from coercive force positioning, aggressive rhetoric, and malign activities directed against allies and other nations. Russia should also withdraw its forces from Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova, where they are deployed without the consent of these countries,” he commented.
As for risk reduction and arms control, NATO proposes “mutual” briefings on nuclear exercises and policies at the NATO-Russia Council, the main meeting point for the two parties.
It also proposes modernizing the Vienna Document on Confidence- and Security-Building Measures, working to reduce threats in space and cyberspace, holding consultations on ways to prevent incidents in the air and at sea, and recommitting to the full compliance with international commitments on chemical and biological weapons.
Similarly, Stoltenberg opted for “a serious conversation about gun control.”
Asked if he fears that Russia will use the written answers as a pretext to invade Ukraine, the NATO secretary general replied that it was decided to send the letter to Moscow because the Alliance “takes very seriously the efforts to try to make progress” in the dialogue. with the Kremlin.
He stressed that putting the answers in writing also allows “being more specific” and going “into details.”
“It is not a secret that we are very far apart and there are some serious differences between NATO and Russia, but at the same time, that makes it even more important to look at the proposals, listen to each other’s concerns and try to identify political solutions that we can agree to. avoid a new armed conflict in Europe,” he said, saying that a political solution is still possible.
In any case, he insisted that the use of force against Ukraine will have “serious consequences”, including sanctions.
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