Just a day ahead of the Thursday emergency meeting of NATO leaders in Brussels, which Joe Biden will attend in person, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has previewed in a new speech that countries will commit to “major increases” in troops along Europe’s ‘eastern flank’.
He also took the opportunity to warn Russia to stop its ‘nuclear saber rattling’ – a day after the Pentagon called recent Kremlin remarks related to a heightened nuclear posture that was raised last month “dangerous”. Stoltenberg stated, “Russia should stop this dangerous irresponsible nuclear rhetoric.” He said, “But let there be no doubt about our readiness to protect and defend allies against any threat anytime.”
“Russia must understand that it can never win a nuclear war,” Stoltenberg added. And despite weapons shipments from the West continuing to reportedly enter Ukraine, he added an important caveat: “NATO is not part of the conflict … it provides support to Ukraine but isn’t part of the conflict.”
“NATO will not send the troops into Ukraine… It is extremely important to provide support to Ukraine and we are stepping up. But at the same time it is also extremely important to prevent this conflict becoming a full-fledged war between NATO and Russia,” he stressed.
I think this is the first major admission of how taken aback Moscow was by western sanctions.
Lavrov: "When they [froze] the central bnak reserves, nobody who was predicting what sanctions the west would pass could have pictured that. It's just thievery."https://t.co/5Js2Ktc1b7
— max seddon (@maxseddon) March 23, 2022
As for the locations expected to host more troops, the countries of Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, and Slovakia were identified. NBC details of his words:
“I expect leaders will agree to strengthen NATO’s posture in all domains, with major increases in the eastern part of the alliance on land, in the air and at sea,” Stoltenberg said during a press conference ahead of the NATO leaders summit in Brussels.
Since the Kremlin’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine, NATO has readied 140,000 troops in the region and mobilized a colossal war chest of advanced military equipment in preparation. Of the approximately 140,000 troops, the United States has provided the lion’s share of 100,000.
After weeks of the West accusing Russia of possibly preparing the use chemical weapons or other WMD – but without evidence it should be noted – Stoltenberg also said NATO is prepared to defend Ukraine in the event of a chemical or nuclear attack, which appeared more as a “warning” intended to deter usage of such banned weapons.
— AFP News Agency (@AFP) March 23, 2022
Stoltenberg also took the opportunity to lash out at China, echoing recent Washington concerns that Beijing is cooperation with Moscow on weapons resupplies for its Ukraine operations. “China has provided Russia with political support, including by spreading blatant lies and misinformation,” Stoltenberg said.