NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg sees a Russia that is showing military muscle while trying to split Europe.
On Wednesday and Thursday defence ministers from NATO member countries are meeting in Brussels, with the growing threat from the east once again being one of the pivotal questions.
– What we see is a Russia that has upgraded overtime, and a Russia that has tried to split Europe, for example in view of economic sanctions, Stoltenberg told news agency NTB.
But the Russians have not succeeded, maintains the NATO commander.
– NATO is more united than ever, and NATO has taken substantial steps to continuously keep all member states safe in a dangerous world, he says.
Since 2000, Russia has tripled military spending while inn Europe, the military spending in the same period decreased. Russia has renewed equipment parks, deployed more troops and also demonstrated its willingness to use military force on the ground in Ukraine.
The last few weeks have also been marked by a fierce Russian bombardment of Aleppo in Syria.
Last week the EU’s Heads of State and Government discussed relations with Russia at their summit in Brussels.
Where topics ranged from violations of member countries’ airspace to misinformation, cyber attacks and interference in political processes.
EU countries disagreed on how to answer, but stated that they will keep all options on the table.
– The Russian strategy is to weaken the EU. We have a sober view of reality and no illusions, said EU President Donald Tusk after the summit.
Important with consensus
Defence Minister Ine Eriksen Søreide does not like strong words, but states that the Russians are doing what they can to create controversy in the EU and NATO – and between the EU and NATO.
– There will be direct Russian interest. It applies to the full range of sanctions to the military instruments, Søreide said.
She believes it is very important that both the EU and NATO continue to unite ahead.
The same is the message from Stoltenberg, who also stressed that NATO still wants dialogue with the Russians.
He has repeatedly pointed out that the goal is not to have a new Cold War or a new arms race in the East.
– Strong defense combined with openness to dialogue has been NATO’s main message, says Stoltenberg.
Source: NTB scanpix / Norway Today