NATO doesn't see threat from Russia, but Moscow must honor international rules - Stoltenberg

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg says he does not see an imminent threat from Russia to the Baltic countries or other NATO members, but insisted that Russia must respect sovereignty of other states.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg says he does not see an imminent threat from Russia to the Baltic countries or other NATO members, but insisted that Russia must respect sovereignty of other states.

Speaking in an interview broadcast by Kommersant-FM radio on Friday, Stoltenberg said the alliance has taken note that Russia is responsible for violating international rules by using force, which it has done in Georgia, in Moldova, in Crimea, and in eastern Ukraine these days.

This causes NATO's concerns, and this is why it is adapting its forces and their arrangement, taking into consideration the changes in security conditions.

NATO wants to enhance capability of its forces, and therefore it is reinforcing its collective defense, so that the alliance could protect all of its members in the future, he said.

NATO is not seeking confrontation with Russia and is trying to establish constructive partnership with Moscow, but at the same time it cannot compromise the principles on which security is based, Stoltenberg said.

He stressed that Russia must abide by fundamental rules, including to respect borders of its neighbors. Since Russia has violated international rules, this has determined the alliance's further policy, he said.

Everything that NATO is doing is proportionate and is for defense purposes only, which fully meets its international obligations, he said.

Stoltenberg reaffirmed NATO's plans to set up six command and control centers in six of its member-states in eastern Europe. These centers will be limited and will not be for combat purposes but will serve to ensure communication between the national forces in these countries and NATO's multinational forces, he said.

The centers will organize exercises within the framework of NATO's collective defense efforts, which is aimed at guaranteeing stability and security of all alliance members, he said.

A decision whether to join NATO or not rests solely with a candidate-country and NATO, and not a single country outside the alliance can veto such a scenario, which was said in Bucharest and which is still valid today, Stoltenberg said.

Asked whether the fact that a radical leftist government has come to power in Greece might affect the alliance's unity, Stoltenberg pointed out that Athens has reaffirmed its commitment to NATO membership. The secretary general said he had talked recently with the Greek defense minister, who assured him that Greece would remain committed to NATO.

 

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