(FreedomBeacon.com)- In response to the large concentration of Russian troops massing on the border with Ukraine, on Monday NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg warned Russia that NATO was standing by Ukraine.
Stoltenberg stressed the importance of preventing the situation from spiraling out of control and urged Russia to be forthright about its military activities to reduce tensions and prevent escalations.
In a press conference with Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba in Brussels, Stoltenberg said that NATO must be clear-eyed and realistic about the current challenges. And what is clear is that Russia is building up a “significant, large” military presence on the border.
Stoltenberg was unwilling to speculate about Russia’s intentions, but noted that Russia has used such a concentration of troops before to “conduct aggressive actions against Ukraine.”
Stoltenberg said Russia’s troop build-up, which Ukraine estimated at 100,000, was dangerous because it will reduce any “warning time” should Russia decide to “conduct a military aggressive action against Ukraine.”
Part of the thread, Stoltenberg said, also comes from Russian troops and Russian-backed separatists already inside Crimea which Russia annexed back in 2014.
While the Russian troop movements are sparking fears of an imminent attack, Moscow is dismissing the fears as inflammatory. The Kremlin has also voiced objection to NATO’s increasing activity in the region.
A NATO source speaking with Reuters described how Russia is deploying its military equipment along Ukraine’s border. According to the source, Russia is sending in large equipment like tanks, self-propelled artillery, and infantry fighting vehicles during the night to avoid the same scrutiny they received in the spring when pictures showing Russian military movements began appearing on social media.
Gabrielius Landsbergis, Lithuania’s foreign minister who was in Brussels meeting with his European Union counterparts, told reporters on Monday that the situation could go either way. Landsbergis said the West can’t rule out a Russian attack on Ukraine when international attention is focused on the Belarus border crisis with Poland. Likewise, it can’t rule out Russia establishing a permanent military presence in Belarus while the West is focused on Ukraine.