NATO slams Russia, vows to 'protect Europe'

NATO chief Jen Stoltenberg has warned that ‘Russia’s nuclear saber-rattling is unjustified, destabilizing and dangerous,’

NATO slams Russia, vows to 'protect Europe'

World Bulletin / News Desk

Russia’s continued nuclear-related threats are unnecessary and disruptive, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said Wednesday.

“Russia’s nuclear saber-rattling is unjustified, destabilizing and dangerous,” Stoltenberg said during public remarks at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “We learned during the Cold War that when it comes to nuclear weapons, caution, predictability and transparency are vital.”

Moscow’s signaling that it would place nuclear-capable missile systems in Kaliningrad, the Russian exclave bordering Poland, and the Crimean Peninsula, “would fundamentally change the balance of security in Europe”, Stoltenberg said. 

He also warned of increased “provocative” flights by Russian nuclear-capable bombers from “Japan to Gibraltar” and “Crete to California,” saying Russia has stepped up its air activity by roughly 50 percent.

A “large number” of those military flights are conducted with their flight transponders turned off – potentially endangering civilian aircraft, according to Stoltenberg.

More broadly speaking, Stoltenberg criticized Russia’s actions regarding Ukraine, saying that Moscow has used snap exercises to annex Crimea and that such mass military mobilizations have “masked support to separatists in eastern Ukraine. And led to the build-up of forces on Ukraine’s border.” 

Russia is currently holding one such exercise involving 250 aircraft and 700 pieces of heavy equipment, he added.

Still, he said that the transatlantic alliance’s relations with Russia has not deteriorated to Cold War levels, “but we are far from a strategic partnership. 

“Russia is a global actor that is asserting its military power,” he said. “We regret that Russia is taking this course. Because when might becomes right, the consequences are grave.”

Regarding non-state threats, Stoltenberg welcomed NATO allies collaborating on the U.S.-led anti-ISIL coalition, saying that the alliance’s “experience” and “interoperability” are “very useful.

“We see violence, turmoil in Iraq, Syria, and in North Africa. We see people trying to cross the Mediterranean, and we also see terrorist attacks taking place on our streets inspired by some of the ISIL and other terrorist organizations in the south,” he said using another acronym for ISIL.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 28 Mayıs 2015, 14:30