RIGA - NATO's dialogue with Russia is possible but the alliance must demonstrate unity and to deter Russia from attacking a NATO member, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said during a visit to the Adazi military base Monday.
In a conversation with journalists, the NATO chief refrained from commenting on what tactic Russia might possibly use against Europe, saying that it is already clear that energy issues are also highly important for NATO's stability.
In Stoltenberg's words, the situation at the Polish, Lithuanian and Latvian borders is an indication of how desperate the regime of Belarus' leader Alexander Lukashenko is because the dictator is using people, risking their lives and health to satisfy his whims. "And this is only to put political pressure on other countries," Stoltenberg said.
These developments show that the European Union (EU) and NATO are able to cooperate and need one another, the NATO chief said.
Commenting on the situation at Ukraine's border, Stoltenberg said that the alliance does not know Russia's actual intentions regarding Ukraine, but "we see that a large number of Russian military equipment is concentrated at Ukraine's border and in Crimea".
We see the number of units growing also in Crimea. They continue to support the separatists in Donbas, which is still a Ukrainian territory. On the whole, we cannot speculate about Russia's intentions but the deployed military equipment is suspicious, because it also includes drones. Knowing Russia's earlier rhetoric against Ukraine's territorial integrity - this causes concerns. If Russia decides to invade Ukraine, they will have to pay for it and this will have significant consequences, Stoltenberg warned.
The alliance has to take preventive measures to deter Russia from invading Ukraine. The deployment of allied troops in Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, as well as elsewhere in the Baltic Sea region sends a clear message to Russia on NATO's position.
At present, NATO does not see any extensive threats from Russia to a NATO member. "We do not want to wage war. On the contrary - we want to prevent any Russian aggression," the NATO secretary general said.
Stoltenberg expressed regret over Moscow's unwillingness to cooperate with NATO. "I believe in dialogue with Russia, it is our neighbor. We need to reduce potential risks that might arise. To deter Russia from attacking a NATO member we need to show that we as united as ever," Stoltenbergs said.