search

NATO chief warns Russia of ‘costs’ if it moves on Ukraine

Russia is keeping 90,000 troops near the border following wargames and Kyev has warned that Moscow could be plotting a coup

This frame from a video released on April 23, 2021, by Russian Defense Ministry Press Service shows, Russian troops board landing vessels after drills in Crimea. Ukrainian and Western officials are worried that a Russian military buildup near Ukraine could signal plans by Moscow to invade its ex-Soviet neighbor. The Kremlin insists it has no such intention and has accused Ukraine and its Western backers of making the claims to cover up their own allegedly aggressive designs. (Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP, File)
This frame from a video released on April 23, 2021, by Russian Defense Ministry Press Service shows, Russian troops board landing vessels after drills in Crimea. Ukrainian and Western officials are worried that a Russian military buildup near Ukraine could signal plans by Moscow to invade its ex-Soviet neighbor. The Kremlin insists it has no such intention and has accused Ukraine and its Western backers of making the claims to cover up their own allegedly aggressive designs. (Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP, File)

BRUSSELS (AP) — NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg warned Russia Friday that any attempt to invade Ukraine would have costs, as concern mounts about a Russian military buildup near its former Soviet neighbor’s borders.

Ukraine says Moscow kept about 90,000 troops near their common border following massive war games in western Russia earlier this year. The Ukrainian Defense Ministry said units of the Russian 41st army remain near Yelnya, about 260 kilometers (160 miles) north of the border.

Moscow denies that it’s planning any invasion and refuses to provide details about troop movements on its own territory.

“If Russia uses force against Ukraine that will have costs, that would have consequences,” Stoltenberg said, ahead of a meeting of the 30-nation military organization’s foreign ministers in Latvia Nov. 30-Dec. 1, where Russia’s activities will be high on the agenda. He did not say what those costs would be.

“This is the second time this year that Russia has amassed a large and unusual concentration of forces in the region,” Stoltenberg told reporters. He said it includes tanks, artillery, armored units, drones, and electronic warfare systems, as well as combat-ready troops.

“This military buildup is unprovoked and unexplained. It raises tensions and it risks miscalculations,” Stoltenberg said. He conceded that “there is no certainty about the intentions of Russia” but said that “this is a military buildup by a country that has invaded Ukraine before.”

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaks to the press ahead of a meeting of NATO Foreign Affairs Ministers to be held on Nov. 30-Dec.1, at the NATO headquarters, in Brussels, Belgium, Friday, Nov. 26, 2021. (AP Photo/Olivier Matthys)

Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in 2014 after the country’s Moscow-friendly president was driven from power by mass protests. Weeks later, Russia threw its weight behind a separatist insurgency that broke out in Ukraine’s east.

Ukraine and the West accused Russia of sending its troops and weapons to back the rebels. Moscow denied that, saying that Russians who joined the separatists were volunteers. More than 14,000 people have died in the fighting that devastated Ukraine’s eastern industrial heartland known as Donbas.

A 2015 peace agreement brokered by France and Germany helped end large-scale battles, but efforts to reach a political settlement have failed and sporadic skirmishes have continued along the tense line of contact.

NATO would not be able to provide Ukraine with any substantial military support in time to make a difference against Russian forces, so economic measures like Western sanctions are more likely to be used to inflict a financial cost on Moscow.

A Ukrainian serviceman walks along a trench on the frontline with Russia-backed separatists near the village of Talakivka, Donetsk region, on November 24, 2021. (Photo by Sergey VOLSKIY / AFP)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Friday alleged that his country’s intelligence service has uncovered plans for a Russia-backed coup d’etat in Ukraine next week, something which the Russian government denied.

US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan on Friday spoke with the head of the Presidential Administration in Ukraine, Andriy Yermak. The two discussed their shared concerns about ongoing Russian military activities near Ukraine’s border and agreed that all sides should pursue diplomatic efforts to de-escalate tensions, National Security Council spokesperson Emily Horne said in a statement.

“Mr. Sullivan underscored the United States’ unwavering commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” the statement read.

read more:
comments
Never miss breaking news on Israel
Get notifications to stay updated
You're subscribed