Invasion of Ukraine: Putin made a ‘big mistake’, says Stoltenberg

Russian President Vladimir Putin made a “big mistake” with the invasion of Ukraine, whose resistance he “underestimated”, Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary General, said Thursday before the opening of extraordinary summit of the Alliance.

“(Ukrainian) President Zelensky will address the Alliance leadership and they will consider their support to help Ukraine exercise its right to self-defense,” Stoltenberg said.

NATO will also discuss the need to “reset its defenses on its eastern flank”, he added. Four new battlegroups will be created in Romania, Hungary, Bulgaria and Slovakia, and reinforce the four already formed in Poland and the three Baltic countries.

More than 100,000 American troops are currently present in Europe and more than 40,000 troops are under direct NATO command in the eastern part of the Alliance.

The discussions will focus on the sustainability of these forces and the increase in military spending by the Allies. Decisions are expected at the end of June at the NATO summit in Madrid.

Thursday’s extraordinary summit will last three hours. It will be followed by a G7 summit at Alliance headquarters with the face-to-face participation of Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who came to Brussels especially for this meeting.

US President Joe Biden will then meet the EU Heads of State and Government at the end of the afternoon, gathered for a two-day summit.

The war launched by Russia against Ukraine will be at the heart of the three summits, with the coordination of sanctions to compel the Kremlin to cease hostilities and the pressure to be exerted on certain countries, in particular China and India, to prevent them to help Russia circumvent the punitive measures of the West.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is due to speak by videoconference during the three summits.

“We expect meaningful measures. From NATO, the EU and the G7,” the Ukrainian president announced in a video message on Wednesday evening.

“At these three summits, we will see who is a friend, who is a partner, and who betrayed us for money,” he added.

Westerners will discuss what they can do to strengthen their military, financial and humanitarian support and what they refuse to do.

“There will be no NATO troops on the ground in Ukraine, nor planes in the sky,” reaffirmed Jens Stoltenberg. “A no-fly zone has to be enforced and that would require attacking air defenses and shooting down Russian aircraft. This would provoke a war between NATO and Russia,” he explained.

Jens Stoltenberg refused to comment on a possible further extension of his term as head of NATO. “The decision is up to the 30 allies. I don’t want to comment,” he said.

“If there was a will among NATO countries for an extension, Norway would support it,” Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre told Norwegian news agency NTB on his arrival in Brussels.

Jens Stoltenberg is to take over as head of the Norwegian central bank after his NATO term and the original plan was for him to take office on 1is December.

See also

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.