After expressing solidarity against any Russian aggression towards Ukraine, NATO foreign ministers are ending two-day talks in Latvia on Wednesday, focusing on situations in Ukraine and Georgia as well as Afghanistan.
Discussing the activities of Russian troops near the border with Ukraine, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters on Tuesday that “there is no clarity about what the Russian intentions are.”
“You can discuss whether the probability of infiltration is 20% or 80%, it doesn’t matter. We need to be prepared for the worst,” Stoltenberg said.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned Russia that “any renewed aggression would have dire consequences.”
Following the conclusion of NATO talks in Riga, Blinken is traveling to Stockholm, Sweden to meet fellow ministers of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and discuss bilateral relations with Swedish officials.
Karen Donfried, the top US diplomat for European affairs, told reporters in a telephone briefing on Friday that Blinken would use the OSCE talks to raise the issue of Russian occupation of Ukrainian and Georgian territories as well as the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
In Moscow on Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin warned that his military could be forced to respond to a Western-led expansion of Ukraine’s military infrastructure if “red lines” were crossed by NATO.
“If some kind of strike system appears on the territory of Ukraine, then the flight time to Moscow will be 7-10 minutes, and in the case of hypersonic weapons deployment will be five minutes. Just imagine, ”said Putin.
“Then we have to do something similar with respect to people who bully us like this. And we can do that now,” Putin said.
The Russian leader noted that his military has recently successfully test-fired a new sea-based hypersonic missile that will be in service early next year.
Donfried also said that Blinken would also discuss the situation in Belarus in Stockholm.
The European Union accused Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko of luring thousands of migrants, mainly from the Middle East, to travel to Belarus and trying to cross into Latvia, Lithuania and Poland to destabilize those countries. The European Union says Lukashenko is retaliate for sanctions imposed against his government.
Blinken said on Tuesday that the US, in coordination with the European Union, was preparing additional sanctions against Belarus, which he called “ongoing attacks on democracy, on human rights, on international norms.”
Responding to a question from the VoA, Blinken said that he and Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkeviks “have focused on actions that unfortunately prevent migration to Belarus as well as the suppression of its own people and their democratic aspirations”. Taking the case of trying to use it as a weapon. Sow division and instability in Europe.”
“We are in close coordination with the European Union preparing all UN sanctions,” Blinken told reporters.