Stoltenberg asks Russia to reduce tension after the new military deployment in Belarus


NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Thursday asked Russia to lower the tension against European security, warning of the new Russian military deployment in Belarus, where joint maneuvers are planned in mid-February.

“The last few days we have seen significant movements of the Russian Army in Belarus, this is the largest Russian deployment since the Cold War,” Stoltenberg said in statements after meeting at NATO headquarters with the Prime Minister of North Macedonia, Dimitar Kovacevski .

With the Balkan leader, he discussed the enormous Russian military concentration around Ukraine, of some 100,000 soldiers.

Added to this movement are the maneuvers in Belarus, where Moscow and Minsk will carry out military exercises for ten days, from February 10 to 20, in full tension with Europe due to the repercussions for European security of the crisis in Ukraine.

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Some 13,000 soldiers and another 3,500 paratroopers, as well as 800 battle tanks and armored vehicles, are expected to participate in the exercises along the southern border, including the border with Ukraine.

“NATO insists on its request to Russia to de-escalate the situation. Any Russian aggression will have severe consequences and will entail a high price,” assured the former Norwegian prime minister, who recalled that the military organization is ready to have a useful dialogue with Moscow.


Although NATO is careful to make predictions about possible Russian actions, they do point to two worrying scenarios. The first is the worsening of the crisis in eastern Ukraine. With areas controlled by pro-Russian separatists, it would be a situation that would be easy to exacerbate, according to the sources consulted.

While the other is the situation in Belarus where, in cooperation with Belarusian forces, Moscow could attempt an all-out raid on Ukraine. “We have all the options on the table. We must be ready both for a large-scale situation and for small cases of sabotage, cyber attacks and power outages,” the allied sources conclude.

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Amid tensions with Russia, the Atlantic Alliance has signaled that it is ready to sit down again with Russian authorities to discuss security areas where NATO and Russia can mutually benefit.

The written proposal proposes to Russia to negotiate the reduction of nuclear arms, the control of short and medium range missiles or greater transparency on military maneuvers. The idea is to continue the path of dialogue opened on January 12 in the margins of the NATO-Russia Council, a forum that has not met since mid-2019.

In any case, the military organization has assured that it will not negotiate security principles and has flatly rejected Russian demands for NATO to veto the future accession of countries such as Ukraine or Georgia.


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