NATO leaders say they are ready for another armed conflict in Ukraine

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said the US-led defense pact was poised for “a new armed conflict in Europe” if negotiations failed and warned Russia of “high costs” if it launched a new attack on it. Ukraine, saying he hoped that close talks could pave the way for a diplomatic solution.

“It is possible to find together a path, a political path to follow, and also to respond to Russia’s concerns … But there is always a risk of conflict”, Stoltenberg Recount Financial Time. “NATO’s deterrence is credible and strong… We must hope and work hard for the best, but be prepared for the worst. “

Speaking before meeting with Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister, the NATO chief said they are working hard for a peaceful political path and are ready to continue working with Russia to try to find that path. towards a peaceful solution.

“At the same time, we must be ready for Russia to choose to use armed force again, to choose confrontation over cooperation.”

Stoltenberg was speaking as senior US and Russian officials held a high-stakes meeting in Geneva on the crisis.

This will be followed on Wednesday by talks in Brussels between Russia and the 30 NATO allies.

Clear message to Russia

“We must also send a very clear message to Russia, that we are united and that there will be significant costs – economic and political costs – for Russia if it uses military force against Ukraine again,” Stoltenberg said.

He stressed that the alliance provides “support to Ukraine, helping it to defend the right to self-defense”.

Stoltenberg said he did not expect this week’s talks to “solve all the problems” but wanted to start a process towards a political solution. “We are aiming for an agreement on a way forward, a process, a series of meetings,” he said.

Moscow has formulated a series of security demands for the United States and NATO, such as the exclusion of Ukraine from joining the alliance and the withdrawal of forces close to Russia.

The United States and its allies say it is not for Moscow to determine which path other countries take, but insist they are ready to listen to Russia’s “concerns”.

Olga Stefanishyna, one of the four Ukrainian deputy prime ministers, said that “any discussion of security guarantees should start with the withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukrainian territory”.

“Russia demands an unconditional surrender, demands to undermine the fundamental principles of functioning of democratic countries and the principles of NATO”, she declared.

“We believe that Russia is misunderstanding the situation and we rely heavily on our allies, their unity and their assurance to protect security and stability in Europe.”