NATO chief warns of ‘significant’ Russian military build-up along Ukraine border

The head of NATO said Monday that the military alliance is closely monitoring large concentrations of Russian forces close to Ukraine’s borders and is urging Moscow to be “transparent” and “prevent escalation” in a bid to reduce tensions.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Twitter that he had met with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba to discuss to situation near the Ukrainian-Russian border.

“What we see is a significant, large Russian military build-up, we see an unusual concentration of troops and we know Russia has been willing to use these types of military capabilities before to conduct aggressive actions against Ukraine,” Stoltenberg told reporters in Brussels, Bloomberg reported.

“Russia’s military [maneuvers], the energy crisis in Europe, the dramatic use of migrants as a weapon on Poland’s and Lithuania’s borders with Belarus, and massive disinformation are not isolated,” Kuleba said in a tweet.

The Ukrainian diplomat said it was all part of what he called “Russia’s hybrid war on the European and Euro-Atlantic community.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Nov. 13 that about 100,000 Russian soldiers and heavy equipment, including tanks, were being moved close to the shared border with Ukraine, according to Reuters.

The troop movement on the Russian side has caused fears of a possible invasion. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said last week that the U.S. is concerned Russia may launch an invasion of Ukraine and attempt a land-grab similar to its military takeover of the Crimean Peninsula in 2014. 

“Our concern is that Russia may make the serious mistake of attempting to rehash what it undertook back in 2014, when it amassed forces along the border, crossed into sovereign Ukrainian territory and did so claiming — falsely — that it was provoked,” he added.

“I hope the whole world can now clearly see who really wants peace and who is concentrating nearly 100,000 soldiers at our border,” Zelenskiy said in a video message earlier this month.

Russia, however, has denied that the military build-up is a sign of a possible invasion and said in a statement on Friday that “the movement of troops on our territory shouldn’t be a cause for anyone’s concern.”

“Russia doesn’t threaten anyone,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters during a conference call, according to The Associated Press.

Tags Antony Blinken

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