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NATO warns of the staging of attacks to justify a Russian invasion of Ukraine

NATO warns of the staging of attacks to justify a Russian invasion of Ukraine

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has expressed concern that Russia may stage an attack to provide a justification for invading Ukraine, while the Ukrainian government and pro-Russian separatist militias accuse each other of carrying out attacks that violate the ceasefire in eastern Ukraine.

“We are concerned that Russia is trying to stage a pretext for an armed attack against Ukraine,” Allied Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told a news conference at the end of a NATO ministers’ meeting in Brussels.

The politician stressed the possibility of Moscow provoking a “false flag operation” in eastern Ukraine, designed to look like an attack on Russians or Russian-speakers in Ukraine as an excuse to enter Ukrainian territory.

In that sense, he stressed that there have been “attempts to stage a pretext, false flag operations, to provide an excuse to invade Ukraine.”

“I can’t go into the details of the different reports, but that is why we are monitoring what is going on so closely and why NATO allies have exposed Russian actions, Russian plans and Russian efforts. Russians when it comes to disinformation. Because we think that makes it more difficult for them to act and invade Ukraine,” he noted.

In any case, he stated that there is no “clarity” or “certainty” about Moscow’s intentions.

“We don’t know what will happen, but what we do know is that Russia has built up the largest force we have seen in Europe in decades in and around Ukraine, and we also know that there are a lot of Russian spies operating in Ukraine; they are present in Donbas (eastern Ukraine controlled by pro-Russian separatists),” he commented.

Indeed, Stoltenberg noted that Russia has “enough troops and enough capabilities around Ukraine to launch a full-fledged invasion at little or no notice.”

The secretary general, once again, urged Moscow to withdraw the deployed forces and to get involved in the dialogue.

Despite the Kremlin’s statements about a withdrawal of its forces, Stoltenberg said they do not see a de-escalation, but rather that the military build-up continues.

The Ukrainian government and pro-Russian separatist militias backed by Moscow accused each other on Thursday of violating the ceasefire regime in eastern Ukraine.

The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense denounced that this Wednesday the pro-Russians violated the ceasefire on 29 occasions, without causing casualties in the ranks of the government forces.

Meanwhile, the self-proclaimed people’s republics of Donetsk and Lugansk assured that the Ukrainian Army attacked the surroundings of nine towns under their control with mortar fire, according to the agency of the pro-Russian separatists DAN.

Asked about it, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said that the information is “certainly worrying” and that they are still “gathering the details.”

“We said for a while that the Russians could do something like that to justify a military conflict,” he said, “so we’ll be watching it very closely,” he added.

He insisted that Washington will be vigilant against possible operations, “in which Russia prepares a dramatic event to justify an attack”, something he said they have seen Moscow “do in the past”.

Austin also warned that Russia, instead of withdrawing the troops accumulated next to Ukraine, is bringing them “little by little” closer to that border, and assured that it is even supplying the contingents with blood supplies. “You certainly don’t if you’re getting ready to pack up and go home,” he pointed out.

He made it clear that Russia continues to build up troops around Ukraine, in Crimea, Belarus and the Black Sea, which he said already number some 150,000 soldiers, but considered that “there is still time and space for diplomacy to work.”

“If not, it will be clear to the whole world that Putin will start a war with diplomatic options still on the table,” he said.

Russia has announced that this Thursday it will transmit to the United States its reaction to the American response to the security demands raised by Moscow, but Stoltenberg, asked if NATO also expects to receive this Thursday the response to the initiatives that the Alliance sent to Moscow, He stated that they are waiting for a response from the Kremlin.

“Unfortunately, I think that what we are seeing now is a kind of new normal for European security, because we have seen for many years this trend where Russia disputes fundamental principles of European security and is willing to use force, as it has done. against Georgia and Ukraine, but also to threaten the use of force to intimidate countries in Europe,” he said.

Source: Gestion

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