Russia has “increased pattern of aggressive behavior”
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NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg argued that Russia has “raised its standard of aggressive behavior”, with the Allies showing a “very high level of unity” in a “firm and consistent response” to face it.

Despite years of pressure and efforts to develop a meaningful dialogue, Russia has increased its pattern of repressive behavior at home and aggressive behavior abroad “, said Jens Stoltenberg.

The secretary-general of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was speaking after the second day of the Alliance’s foreign ministers’ meeting, where officials discussed how to deal with Russia.

With regard to internal repression, Jens Stoltenberg said that there continues to be a “violent oppression of political protest” in Russia, has called for the “immediate release” of Russian opponent Alexei Navalny, as well as “all peaceful protesters who have been detained “.

As for the foreigner, Jens Stoltenberg stressed that the Kremlin “destabilizes its neighbors” – such as Ukraine, Georgia or Moldova -, “supports the repression in Belarus” and “tries to interfere in the Western Balkans”.

“Russia continues its broad military development, from the Baltics to the Black Sea, in the Middle East and North Africa, from the Mediterranean to the Arctic. The Allies denounced Russia’s misinformation and propaganda, its efforts to influence elections, the cyberattacks, and their use of chemical weapons against political opponents both in their country and in our territory, “he said.

In view of this behavior, the secretary-general said that the Alliance’s response is “firm and consistent”, with Russia’s actions motivating the “greatest reinforcement” of NATO’s collective defense in the space of “a generation”, namely by increasing the “cyber defense” and the preparation of hybrid counter-attacks.

However, Jens Stoltenberg also stressed that the Alliance will maintain its “two-way” approach to Russia – which combines a “strong” policy of “deterrence and defense” with an “openness to dialogue” – – in order to allow the discussion of topics such as arms control.

“The Allies remain firmly committed to arms control and all Allies welcome the recent decision to extend the New START treaty, which should be the beginning of an effort to further strengthen international control of nuclear weapons. We see that Russia continues to mobilize new and destabilizing nuclear weapons, we need an agreement that covers more weapons and more nations, like China, “he said.

Asked whether the Nord Stream 2 pipeline – which is currently being finalized and which will bring Russian gas to Germany, having been classified by the United States as a “bad idea” – is not dividing the Allies with regard to the strategy vis-à-vis Russia, Stoltenberg acknowledged that “there are differences” but there is also a “great level of agreement and unity”.

“What I saw today was that there was a great level of agreement and unity [on the way] to deal with Russia and to assess and respond to its aggressive actions. (…) With regard to Nord Stream 2, there are differences, (…) but I think that when we see that there are differences between the Allies on issues like Nord Stream 2, NATO is a good platform to bring them together and to sit down and discuss “, he pointed out.

In a meeting that also included the participation of the Foreign Ministers of Sweden and Finland (who are not members of the Alliance), as well as the High Representative of the European Union (EU) for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, the head of European diplomacy also said, at the outset, that the EU and NATO should seek to “contain Russia” because it is “moving away from European values”.

“We need to contain Russia, to push Russia back when it violates international law, and it is very important to do so within the framework of our partnership with NATO,” defended Borrell.

Despite this, the High Representative also stressed that “channels of communication” must remain open for the discussion of issues, such as climate change or the nuclear agreement with Iran, in which both parties have “common interests”.

Source: with Agencies

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