Sunday, February 25, 2024

WORLD | 24-01-2022 09:14

Russia lashes out as NATO sends planes, ships to eastern Europe

Tensions mount as West accuses Moscow of threatening to invade Ukraine by massing over 100,000 troops on its border. Russia denies it is planning an incursion. 

NATO allies have put forces on standby and sent ships and fighter jets to bolster Europe's eastern defences as tensions soar over Russia's military build-up around Ukraine, the alliance said Monday.

"NATO will continue to take all necessary measures to protect and defend all Allies, including by reinforcing the eastern part of the Alliance. We will always respond to any deterioration of our security environment," NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in a statement. 

The Western alliance pointed to decisions in recent days by Denmark to send a frigate and warplanes to the Baltic states, Spain bolstering naval deployments and the Netherlands putting a "ship and land-based units on standby" for its rapid response force.  

The statement also highlighted a recent offer from France to send troops to Romania and said "the United States has also made clear that it is considering increasing its military presence."

Reacting to the move, Russia accused the United States and NATO of ramping up tensions.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Washington and NATO were escalating tensions through "information hysteria" and "concrete actions," adding that the risk of an offensive by Ukrainian troops against pro-Russia separatists was "very high."

Tensions are mounting as the West accuses Moscow of threatening to invade Ukraine by massing over 100,000 troops on its border. Russia denies it is planning an incursion. NATO's eastern members have been calling for reinforcements.

Latvia's foreign minister Edgar Rinkevics tweeted: "We are reaching the point where continuous Russian and Belarusian military buildup in Europe needs to be addressed by appropriate NATO countermeasures.

"It is time to increase allied forces presence in the alliance's Eastern flank both as measures of defence and deterrence."

The alliance is preparing a proposal for further talks with Russia after the Kremlin issued a raft of demands that would see NATO stop Ukraine joining and roll back its forces in eastern Europe.

NATO insists it will not negotiate over its "core principles" including defending all allies and allowing partners to chose their own path. 

The alliance bolstered its forces in the Baltic states after Russia's 2014 seizure of Crimea from Kyiv and is currently weighing plans to deploy more troops to Romania and Bulgaria. 


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