NATO Foreign Ministers held an extraordinary virtual meeting on Friday to discuss Russia’s continued military build-up in and around Ukraine, and the implications for European security.
Speaking following the meeting, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters:
“The risk of conflict is real. Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified military buildup in and around Ukraine has serious implications for European security and stability."
And this Russian military buildup has not stopped. "It continues and is gradually building up with more forces and more capabilities,” Stoltenberg said, describing armored units, artillery, combat-ready troops, electronic warfare equipment, and other military capabilities.
Stoltenberg was clear that the alliance would not heed Russia’s demand to withdraw the invitation for Ukraine and Georgia to join NATO.
“We will not compromise on core principles, including the right for every nation to decide its own path, including what kind of security arrangements it wants to be a part of,” Stoltenberg said.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his counterparts held the online talks to prepare for the first meeting of the NATO-Russia Council in more than two years. That meeting, set for Wednesday in Brussels, will give NATO ambassadors the chance to discuss Putin’s security proposals with Russia’s envoy face to face.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has said NATO is a threat to Russia’s national security and that expanding eastward by admitting Ukraine and Georgia would only further heighten that concern. The treaty alliance, in turn, claims it's moves are defensive in nature.
Russia denies that it has fresh plans to attack Ukraine, but Putin wants legal guarantees that would rule out NATO expansion and weapons deployments.
Russia Deploys Forces to Kazakhstan
On Friday, AlertsUSA subscribers were notified of a security alert issued by the US Embassy in Kazakhstan warning of a nationwide state of emergency and curfew and the need to lay low and shelter in place until safe departure is possible.
Protests began on January 2nd over a hike in fuel prices but quickly spread throughout the country, driven by long-standing grievances over corruption and inequality. In the former capital, Almaty, demonstrators clashed with police and set fire to government buildings. Dozens have been killed in the protests.
At the request of Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, thousands of troops from a Russian-led
Collective Security Treaty Organization (also known as "mini-NATO") have deployed to the country to help restore order.
The four-star Russian general in command of the CSTO troops in Kazakhstan, Andrey Serdyukov, led Russian forces during the annexation of Crimea and commanded Russian troops in Syria.
Addressing reporters at a State Department briefing on Friday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned that "one lesson of recent history is that once Russians are in your house, it's sometimes very difficult to get them to leave".
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