‘Russian use of chemical weapons would have huge consequences’

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the German Foreign Ministry in Berlin on March 17, 2022.

Just over a month into the war in Ukraine, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg discusses the risks this conflict poses to the Atlantic Alliance and the response his organization must provide.

President Volodymyr Zelensky recently indicated that Ukraine could give up NATO membership and become neutral. Could this be part of the political solution to the conflict with Russia that you are calling for?

We respect all decisions of a sovereign and independent nation, whether it decides to apply for membership or not. It is up to Ukraine to decide, including on its possible neutrality status. I note, however, that the President’s comments were not related to a formal decision, but to a letter of intent.

More than 100,000 US soldiers are now pre-positioned in Europe, many of them in Poland, where NATO forces now exceed 10,000. Will this probably not be regarded by Moscow as a violation of the 1997 Founding Act, which frames the face of NATO and Russia? -to-face and similar broadcasts basically limited to 3,000 soldiers?

The Founding Act clearly states that the territorial integrity of all European countries must be respected, and Russia has consistently violated it. In 2008, by invading Georgia; in 2014, by annexing Crimea; and since then, every day, by destabilizing eastern Ukraine, and most recently by invading it. We need to send a clear message to Moscow and we are doing that to prevent the conflict from degenerating. There can be no misunderstanding that an attack on one of our allies would provoke an Allied response. By sending these troops, we provide a credible deterrent designed not to provoke conflict, but to prevent it and ensure peace. That said, this United States presence is not entirely new. It has gradually increased since 2014 in the face of an increasingly aggressive Russia

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However, these troops were more spread out before…

A large part was already present before this war. We were well prepared, with more exercises, more equipment, more defense spending, more air presence, especially in the Black Sea. Since 2014, we have also established four tactical groups in the Baltic countries and in Poland [ndrl. désormais au nombre de huit]† When the invasion happened, we activated our defense plans from day one and immediately sent more troops. France also participated in this historic adjustment by sending soldiers to Romania and Estonia. France will be in command of the troops deployed to Romania and will be designated “frame nation”

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