NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has described Russia's recent actions in the war against Ukraine as the worst escalation since the invasion began on February 24. "This is a crucial moment," said the Norwegian in Brussels.
He referred to Russia's partial mobilization, nuclear saber-rattling and illegal annexation of Ukrainian territories. "None of that shows strength. It shows weakness," Stoltenberg said. This is an admission that the war is not going according to plan and that Russian President Vladimir Putin has completely failed in his strategic goals.
According to Stoltenberg, fears of a Russian nuclear attack should not be given in to. Putin said in the afternoon that Russia wants to see military strikes in annexed areas as attacks against its own territory. He repeated the threat to respond "with all available means".
NATO Secretary General: Do not accept nuclear blackmail
Stoltenberg stressed that if you accept Russia's annexation and let nuclear saber-rattling stop you from supporting Ukraine, then you accept nuclear blackmail. Rather, one must continue to support Ukraine. If Putin is allowed to win, Ukraine will cease to exist as a sovereign nation. But this is also dangerous for the NATO states. It is not that inaction is not a risk. Rather, inaction is a great risk because it creates a world in which Putin sees that he can use military force with impunity.
"Russia must understand that a nuclear war can never be won and must never be fought." At the same time, Stoltenberg warned that Russia would have serious consequences if it used nuclear weapons. This was clearly communicated to Moscow. At the same time, Stoltenberg confirmed that NATO was not a party to the conflict.
Ukraine to join NATO? - "Door stays open"
After Ukraine's request for membership, Stoltenberg emphasized the alliance's open-door policy. "We have repeatedly said that NATO's door will remain open," said the Secretary-General when asked whether NATO was considering complying with Ukraine's request. Kyiv had previously announced that it wanted to apply to join NATO.
Stoltenberg emphasized that every democracy in Europe has the right to apply for NATO membership. Allies respect this. However, a decision must be made by consensus among all member states. The current focus is on direct support for Ukraine. "That is the main focus and the main effort of the NATO allies," said Stoltenberg.
More data exchange after Nord Stream attack
The NATO countries are reacting to the explosions on the Nord Stream 1 and 2 gas pipelines with more intensive data exchange. "We are intensifying the exchange of knowledge and information," said the Norwegian. Data from the past few weeks is already being evaluated to find out more about the attacks.
In principle, the military presence, the collection and exchange of data and the monitoring of the infrastructure are the most important measures to prevent similar attacks on critical energy infrastructure, according to Stoltenberg.