NATO will continue to support Ukraine but “will not be dragged” into the war there, the US secretary of defense said on Thursday.
Speaking at a news conference after the two-day meeting of NATO defense ministers, Lloyd Austin said: “NATO will not be dragged into Russia's war of choice but we will stand by Ukraine as it fights to defend itself.”
Austin said Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “nuclear saber-rattling” is “very dangerous”, but declined to reveal how NATO would respond to an eventual nuclear attack on Ukraine.
At the same time, he stressed that Moscow still has a choice “to end this war today.”
He praised NATO allies for the “steadfast support” that they have extended to Ukraine since February.
He specifically thanked the Spanish government for offering four HAWK missile launchers to Kyiv in a quick response to Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov’s demand for more air defense capabilities at the meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group on Wednesday.
The US defense secretary explained that “NATO has responded robustly and decisively to Russia's imperial invasion,” and reassured that the alliance will continue to strengthen its collective defense.
During their two-day meeting, NATO defense ministers also discussed the future of NATO missions and plans on increasing the protection of NATO’s critical infrastructure in light of the sabotage attacks on the Nord Stream pipelines.