The Secretary General of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg, has warned Russia and Belarus against turning against allies of the alliance. He was concerned about the close cooperation between the two states.
After the landing of a passenger plane from the EU, forced by the Belarusian authorities, and the resulting tensions, NATO warned Russia and Belarus. “We are of course ready to protect and defend any allied in an emergency against any kind of threat emanating from Minsk and Moscow,” said NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg of “Welt am Sonntag”. “We are vigilant and we are following very closely what is happening in Belarus.” Belarus is becoming “more and more dependent” on Russia.
Stoltenberg said the Allies were seriously concerned about the closer cooperation between Moscow and Minsk in recent months. “We have learned in the past that Russia has massively violated the territorial integrity of states like Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova.”
He doesn’t want to speculate too much, said the former Norwegian Prime Minister, adding: “NATO is a defensive alliance.” The NATO countries Lithuania, Latvia and Poland share a border with Belarus.
EU sanctions in force since Saturday
The Belarusian ruler Alexander Lukashenko had a Ryanair passenger plane forced to make a stopover in Minsk on the way from Athens to Vilnius about two weeks ago. He then had the blogger Roman Protassewitsch, who was traveling on board, who was critical of the government, and his girlfriend Sofia Sapega arrested. Both are in custody.
The EU then imposed sanctions to increase the pressure on Lukashenko. Russian President Vladimir Putin, on the other hand, received the ruler – and helped him with a large loan. Putin stressed that he would continue to support Lukashenko in his confrontation with the West.
Stoltenberg told the newspaper that the situation in Belarus will also be a topic at the NATO summit in Brussels one week from now, which will be attended by Chancellor Angela Merkel and US President Joe Biden. The existing partnership agreement (PFP) with Belarus has recently been significantly scaled back and will continue to be reviewed.
“Remain in conversation”
The alliance is pursuing a two-pronged approach towards Russia: deterrence and dialogue. “We’re holding on to that.” Especially in difficult times, NATO has to stay in talks “with our neighbor Russia” about arms control and other military and political challenges, said Stoltenberg. “If we don’t talk to each other, we can neither settle our disputes nor improve mutual understanding.”