BRUSSELS — NATO is doubling its battlegroups on the alliance’s jap flank in response to Russia’s persevering with struggle in Ukraine, the group’s secretary normal mentioned on Wednesday earlier than a significant summit in which President Biden will meet with European allies in Brussels in the approaching days.
The secretary normal, Jens Stoltenberg, additionally targeted on what import Russia’s potential use of any chemical or organic weapons in Ukraine may maintain for NATO, saying that such use would “fundamentally change the nature of the conflict.” And he upped the rhetoric on China’s position in bringing the battle to an finish, cautioning Beijing to not present materials help to Moscow.
Mr. Stoltenberg’s remarks, in a information briefing at some point earlier than the beginning of an uncommon sequence of back-to-back summits over Russia’s brutal monthlong invasion of Ukraine, which exhibits no signal of ending.
“The first step is the deployment of four new NATO battlegroups in Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia, along with our existing forces in the Baltic countries and Poland,” he mentioned, detailing the bolstering of NATO’s posture alongside its jap frontier with the combat-ready, battalion-size units, which usually have a number of hundred troops every. “This means that we will have eight multinational NATO battlegroups all along the eastern flank, from the Baltic to the Black Sea,” he added.
“All of this is the immediate response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine,” Mr. Stoltenberg mentioned, including that the forces would stay there “as long as necessary.”
NATO leaders will convene in Brussels on Thursday for a summit specializing in the invasion. Mr. Biden will then be a part of E.U. leaders on Thursday afternoon in Brussels — the Belgian capital, which hosts each the NATO and European Union headquarters — in a second summit. And leaders from the Group of 7 main world economies, which embrace the United States and several other E.U. international locations in addition to Canada, will collect on Thursday night to debate the Ukraine disaster.
President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine will be a part of that final summit through videoconference, an E.U. official mentioned.
In his information briefing, Mr. Stoltenberg mentioned that any use of chemical or organic weapons — that are banned by treaty — by Russia in Ukraine could be “a blatant violation of international law.”
The use of such weapons would have “severe consequences,” he mentioned, main not solely to potential devastation inside Ukraine, but additionally “severe consequences for neighboring countries because of the contamination or spread of chemical agents for biological agents will of course also potentially affect neighbors.”
Mr. Stoltenberg maintained that the alliance was wanting to avert a direct confrontation with Russia and would due to this fact not deploy NATO troops in Ukraine or reply to Ukrainian pleas for a NATO-enforced no-fly zone.
At the identical time, he cautioned China in opposition to worsening the battle by offering materials help to Moscow.
“Beijing has joined Moscow in questioning the right of independent nations to choose their own path,” Mr. Stoltenberg mentioned, utilizing extra pointed language towards China than he has beforehand.
“China has provided Russia with political support, including by spreading blatant lies and misinformation,” Mr. Stoltenberg mentioned. “And allies are concerned that China could provide material support for the Russian invasion.”