NATO ‘ready’ if conflict comes, says top US diplomat
NATO would prefer to avoid confrontation with Russia but stands ready if “the conflict comes to us,” US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said on Friday.
NATO “is a defensive alliance. We seek no conflict. But if the conflict comes to us, we are ready for it,” Blinken told reporters while on his way to an extraordinary meeting in Brussels among top diplomats in the alliance.
With the latest developments in the war between Russia and Ukraine, as well as the alliance’s response to it, at the top of the meeting’s agenda, Blinken also vowed that NATO would defend “every inch” of its territory.
In a doorstep speech, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg condemned “the brutal Russian invasion of Ukraine” and attacks against civilians.
He pointed out that the latest reports on Russian troops attacking the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in southeastern Ukraine “demonstrates recklessness of this war.”
Stoltenberg also repeated NATO’s call on Russia to withdraw all its troops and engage in diplomatic talks.
The foreign ministers of Sweden and Finland, as well as top EU diplomat Josep Borrell, are also taking part in the meeting.
Last week, NATO decided to activate its defense plans enabling it to deploy capabilities and forces more easily in NATO territory.
Since Russia’s war on Ukraine began on Feb. 24., it has been met by outrage from the international community, with the EU, UK, and US implementing a range of economic sanctions on Russia.
According to UN figures, 227 civilians have been killed and 525 injured in Ukraine since the start of the war. Ukrainian authorities, however, put the death toll at over 2,000.
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