NATO ready to reinforce eastern flank should Russia escalate further: Stoltenberg

NATO might deploy additional troops to eastern allies should Russia again use force against Ukraine, the alliance's secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg said after the talks held on Wednesday.

“If Russia once again uses force against Ukraine and further invades Ukraine, then we have to seriously look into the need to further increase our presence in the eastern part of the alliance,” Jens Stoltenberg told reporters in Brussels after a meeting of the NATO-Russia Council, responding to a question.

He warned of a “real risk for a new armed conflict in Europe”, although he said NATO “will do what we can to prevent” any such scenario.

During the NATO-Russia talks on Wednesday, the Alliance announced that it was ready to schedule a series of meetings on a range of topics, including limits on the use of missiles in Europe, but Moscow made it clear they were not ready for such a step.

However, Mr Stoltenberg noted the two sides had a frank and open discussion on a wide range of issues and the meeting was useful.

“NATO absolutely spoke with one voice, calling on the Russian side to de-escalate not only in terms of military movements in the vicinity of Ukraine, but also to stop the activities aimed at destabilising the internal situation in Ukraine and other countries,” Poland’s deputy Foreign Minister Marcin Przydacz who participated in the talks told journalists.

"Of course, the Russian side presented its expectations as to the de facto change of the security architecture in this part of the world. We know these expectations perfectly well. They were presented in December in the formula of two written proposals. (...) There is no consensus that this attempt to recreate some spheres of influence controlled by superpowers would be the basis for any negotiations or discussions,” he said.

“This coherent voice of the NATO side resonated and I think that it was also properly understood and read by the Russian side,” Mr Przydacz added.