Russia is in decline but still poses a military threat: NATO head

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg during a meeting with NATO foreign ministers to discuss how to counter Russia’s military buildup on Ukraine’s border amid fears the Kremlin may be preparing an invasion, taking place in Riga , Latvia on November 30, 2021.

Donate Ivuskans | AFP | beautiful pictures

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Russia may be in economic decline, but the country still poses a formidable military threat – especially in the areas of advanced weapons and cyber warfare. NATO Jens Stoltenberg said on Thursday.

Russia is a declining power, which means that Russia’s economic importance and GDP cannot keep up with many other countries in the world. But even an economy in recession and an economy in decline can be a threat and a challenge,” the NATO head told CNBC’s Hadley Gamble.

“It’s not just because Russia has nuclear weapons. And Russia is investing in new modern military capabilities, deploying new hypersonic missiles and also new nuclear-capable missiles deployed in Europe. Europe is here. And so we need to take that very seriously,” Mr. Stoltenberg said.

The comments come amid rising tensions and a flurry of verbal threats between Russia and the West, amid a Russian military buildup along Ukraine’s border.

An unclassified US intelligence document obtained by Reuters shows Russian military activity on Russian territory and annexed Crimea close to the border with Ukraine.


Ukrainian and Western officials fear a Russian land-based invasion of its western neighbor, whose Crimea peninsula was annexed by Russia in 2014. Moscow has rejected this view, instead. pointed to what they see as aggression from Ukraine.

Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told CNBC on Thursday: “Putin has not yet decided whether to launch a military operation… But if he decides to do so, everything will happen in a flash. eye.”

NATO will continue to provide ‘support’ to Ukraine

Ukrainian officials say about 90,000 Russian troops have gathered along the border and satellite images show a significant amount of heavy weapons with them.

“What we see now is very disturbing because we see the Russian military gradually but significantly increasing in and around Ukraine with armored units, artillery, tanks,” Stoltenberg said. fighting and with tens of thousands of soldiers fighting”. “And on top of that, we see an aggressive rhetoric from the Russian side, and we know Russia’s record well. Russia has used military force against Ukraine before.”

Russia supported the separatist insurgency in eastern Ukraine after the 2014 annexation of Crimea, which plunged the region into fighting that left at least 14,000 people dead. Moscow denies inciting the violence, saying it is protecting ethnic Russians from persecution.

Western officials have warned of “serious consequences” for Russia in the event of a new conflict, but did not specify what those might be outside of potential sanctions. Some analysts say this signals a lack of decisiveness or a unified approach among Western leaders on how to deal with Russia.

In any case, NATO has expressed its commitment to provide “support” to Ukraine as a partner. Although it is not a full member of the transatlantic alliance, it is not part of a mutual defense treaty that ensures it is protected by NATO should it be attacked.

Conscription soldiers line up at a train station before departing for military service with the Russian Army. This year, the fall call-up in Russia runs from October 1 to December 31; An estimated 127,500 men will be enlisted in the army.

Sergei Malgavko | TASS | beautiful pictures

“We don’t see a threat against our NATO allies, we see a threat against Ukraine,” Stoltenberg said. “Ukraine is a valued partner, but not a NATO member … protected by NATO’s collective security.”

“When it comes to Ukraine, as a partner, we can add support. And I think what we need to do now is provide political support but also practical support.”

This includes NATO allies providing training, capacity building, joint exercises and various equipment to strengthen Ukraine’s armed forces, Stoltenberg said. “Ukraine has the right to defend itself, and NATO allies are helping them strengthen that defense to help prevent a Russian military attack on Ukraine.”

Stoltenberg also stressed the need for dialogue with Russia to reduce tensions, which Russian President Vladimir Putin has also called for. So far, however, that dialogue has not materialized.

Europe’s energy dependence on Russia

The situation is complicated by Nord Stream 2, the controversial pipeline that will go through countries like Ukraine and Poland to supply gas to Europe. Several European leaders including those in Ukraine and Poland have called for the pipeline to be sunk, and the German government has now suspended regulatory work on it.

But Europe depends on Russia for most of its gas, which is seeing record prices as winter sets in. Russia has been accused by many in the West of using energy as a political weapon.

This dilemma, says Stoltenberg, “emphasizes the importance of diversification [energy] supplies, as a security imperative but also the fact that climate change leads to a reduction in dependence on fossil fuels. “

As for Nord Stream 2, after Germany suspended management work on the pipeline, “It remains to be seen what the final outcome of this process will be,” Stoltenberg said. “In addition, many allies have declared the importance of reducing dependence on Russia.” Russia is in decline but still poses a military threat: NATO head


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