Jens Stoltenberg, the Secretary General of NATO has told a news briefing late this afternoon in Brussels as tensions continue between Russia and Ukraine.
Stoltenberg said NATO allies have welcomed all “diplomatic efforts, and there are signs from Moscow that diplomacy could continue.
“But so far we do not see any sign of de-escalation on the ground. No withdrawals of troops or equipment.”
He did admit that this “may of course change,” adding: “However, what we see today is that Russia maintains a massive invasion force ready to attack.”
The Russian force has “high-end capabilities,” is in place from Crimea to Belarus, he warned.
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Stoltenberg said that Russia has 150,000 near the Ukraine border and NATO allies have agreed further aggression towards Ukraine will come at a “high cost.
He added, “We have called out Russia’s actions, plans and disinformation” and NATO remains “prepared foe the dialogue.”
Stoltenberg said that this is the largest concentration of troops in Europe since the start of the Cold War in 1947.
“It is not too late for Russia to step back from the brink of conflict and choose the path of peace. NATO has sent concrete written proposals to Russia on transparency, risk reduction and arms control.
“We have yet to receive a response. I reiterate by invitation to Russia to meet again in the NATO-Russia Council.”
The NATO chief told the press conference that they will not comprise on their “core principles” and any country has the right to chose their own direction.
Stoltenberg said, “We do not know what will happen in Ukraine.
“But the situation has already demonstrated we’ve faced a crisis in European security.
“Moscow has made it clear that it is prepared to contest the fundamental principles that have underpinned our security for decades, and to do so by using force.
“I regret to say that this is the new normal in Europe.”
NATO could also develop new battlegroups in central eastern ans south eastern Europe, this will be up to “Ministers decided to develop options for further strengthening of NATO’s deterrence and defence.”
He added, “I am confident that when leaders meet in Madrid in June they will reaffirm that Europe and North America must continue to stand strong together in NATO.
“Because NATO is the unique, essential and indispensable transatlantic forum for our defence and security.”
Responding to a question from the BBC, Stoltenberg was asked to expand on his earlier statement of a “new normal.”
He told the BBC, “The new normal is that Russia has demonstrated that it really is willing to contest some of the fundamental principles from our security.
“The right for every nation to choose its own path.”
Stoltenberg told Bloomberg, that once again that NATO has not seen any withdrawal of Russian troops from near Ukraine.
“We think there is some reason for cautious optimism that they are willing to engage in diplomatic efforts,” he says.
However, Stoltenberg warned, that on the ground there is no evidence of a pullback of any Russian troops or equipment. “Actually what we see is that Russian troops are moving into position and we saw the cyber attack.”
“These are the kind of actions and measures that we expect to come in advance of a bigger military intervention into Ukraine, so of course this is of concern.”
The NATO chief added that Russia’s failure to withdraw had been confirmed through commercial satellite imagery over the wide region.
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