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NATO chief says war in Ukraine ‘most dangerous situation’ in Europe since WWII

‘It’s in our interest’ to ensure failure of Russia’s ‘aggressive policy,’ says Stoltenberg, warning that otherwise the entire military alliance could be dragged in

A woman stands in the aftermath of the Russian shelling in Mykolaiv, Ukraine, Aug. 3, 2022 (AP Photo/Kostiantyn Liberov)
A woman stands in the aftermath of the Russian shelling in Mykolaiv, Ukraine, Aug. 3, 2022 (AP Photo/Kostiantyn Liberov)

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Thursday that the war in Ukraine was the most dangerous moment for Europe since World War II, stressing that Russia must not be allowed to win.

Speaking at a political event held in his native Norway, the European official said the continent may be dragged into a long conflict and must continue supporting Ukraine via arm shipments.

“It’s in our interest that this type of aggressive policy does not succeed,” he said of the Russian invasion, according to the Reuters news agency.

Failing to do so, Stoltenberg suggested, may lead to a greater conflict between Russia and NATO.

“What happens in Ukraine is terrible but it would be much worse if there was a war between Russia and NATO,” he said, stressing the importance of preventing Moscow from continuing its invasion, which he said was an attack on the current world order.

“This is the most dangerous situation in Europe since World War Two. If President [Vladimir] Putin even thinks of doing something similar to a NATO country as he has done to Georgia, Moldova or Ukraine, then all of NATO will be involved immediately,” Stoltenberg warned.

North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaks during a press conference following a NATO Defence Ministers’ meeting at the NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium on June 16, 2022. (Valeria Mongelli / AFP)

“This is not just an attack on Ukraine, an independent democratic nation with more than 40 million people, it’s also an attack on our values and the world order we want,” the NATO chief was cited as saying.

Addressing the event and his speech on Twitter, Stoltenberg later wrote: “In a more dangerous world, we must always stand up for our values. This includes supporting #Ukraine’s fundamental right to self-defense from Russia’s war of aggression.”

Meanwhile, US senators delivered overwhelming bipartisan approval to NATO membership for Finland and Sweden Wednesday, calling expansion of the Western defensive bloc a “slam-dunk” for US national security and a day of reckoning for Putin over his invasion of Ukraine.

A soldier from Finland participates in amphibious operations as part of NATO sea exercises BALTOPS 2015 in Ustka, Poland, June 17, 2015. (Czarek SokolowskiAP)

US State and Defense officials consider the two countries net “security providers,” strengthening NATO’s defense posture in the Baltics in particular. Finland is expected to exceed NATO’s 2% GDP defense spending target in 2022, and Sweden has committed to meet the 2% goal.

That’s in contrast to many of NATO’s newcomers formerly from the orbit of the Soviet Union, many with smaller militaries and economies. North Macedonia, NATO’s most recent newcomer nation, brought an active military of just 8,000 personnel when it joined in 2020.

Sweden and Finland applied in May, setting aside their longstanding stance of military nonalignment. It was a major shift of security arrangements for the two countries after neighboring Russia launched its war on Ukraine in late February.

US President Joe Biden encouraged their joining and welcomed the two countries’ government heads to the White House in May, standing side by side with them in a display of US backing.

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