Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary General, said during the Friday meeting of the Allies' chiefs of diplomacy that Russia is strengthening its military positions around Ukraine, talks with Moscow might end in failure and the risk of a new conflict is real.
Mr Stoltenberg added that the Alliance is ready for talks with Russia on conventional and nuclear arms control, but it must be a bilateral procedure.
As the NATO head pointed out, if the diplomatic approach turns out to be unsuccessful and “Russia decides to use military force against one of its neighbours, it will be subject to severe political and economic sanctions.”
However, he made a reservation that the Alliance would not intervene in the defence of Ukraine because the country is not its member.
He also added that NATO was preparing to strengthen its eastern flank, pointing out that the organisation’s rapid response force currently numbers 40,000 troops.
After the meeting, the US mission to NATO announced that the ministers participating in it confirmed the unity of the Alliance in the face of the threat of Russian aggression against Ukraine.