NATO’s Stoltenberg denies alliance plans to deploy combat troops in Ukraine if Russia invades
NATO has no plans to deploy combat troops in Ukraine if Russia invades more Ukrainian territory, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in an interview with BBC News on Jan. 30.
In the interview, he called for a “balanced approach” with regard to rising tensions over Ukraine.
Stoltenberg also said the situation posed “a real danger” and that nations should “continue to work for a political solution.”
Russia has been massing troops at the Russian-Ukrainian border since late October.
More than 130,000 Russian troops and offensive weapons have been deployed near Ukraine’s borders and in the temporarily occupied territories, according to the latest intelligence estimate from the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine.
International media have speculated that Russia may invade Ukraine in early 2022, in an operation that could involve up to 175,000 Russian soldiers.
Both U.S. and European officials have expressed concern over the situation. U.S. President Joe Biden in December declared that the White House was working out “the most comprehensive and meaningful set of initiatives to make it very, very difficult for (Russian President Vladimir) Putin to go ahead and do what people are worried he may do.”
The proposed measures include cutting Russia off from the SWIFT international banking system, personal sanctions against Russian President Vladimir Putin and his inner circle, and a ban on U.S. dollar transactions with Russia.
On Jan. 14, the U.K.-based Guardian newspaper and the U.S.-based CNN news channel reported that Russia had positioned covert operatives in Ukraine to carry out a “false flag” operation to use as a pretext for a Russian attack.
While Russia has denied plans to invade, it has also refused to provide assurances that it would not do so, instead demanding that it be provided with “security guarantees” by the United States and NATO.
In turn, the Ukrainian authorities call on for calm amid the ongoing buildup of Russian troops to the Ukrainian border.
In a video message on Jan. 19, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that the risk of a Russian invasion of Ukraine had not increased, but the hype had significantly risen.
He urged not to panic and not succumb to provocations.
Oleksiy Danilov, the secretary of Ukraine’s Security and Defense Council, earlier said that Russia would need more than a million soldiers for a full-scale invasion.
Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov claimed that as of Jan. 24, Russia had not deployed any strike group of troops along the Ukrainian border that could indicate the threat of a large-scale invasion.
He urged Ukrainians not to panic and said they didn’t need to pack a “go bag.”
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