NATO warns Russia any move on Ukraine would be costly mistake

NATO foreign ministers on Tuesday warned Russia that any effort to destabilize Ukraine would be costly.

NATO's concerns have grown as a result of Russia’s military buildup along its border with Ukraine, and leaders from the 30-country military alliance will gather in Latvia on Tuesday and Wednesday to discuss the Russian aggression and other issues. 

The NATO ministers will “together send an unmistakable message to the Russian government: NATO’s support for Ukraine is unbroken and its independence, territorial integrity and sovereignty are not up for discussion,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said, according to The Associated Press.

ADVERTISEMENT

Maas added that “Russia would have to pay a high price for any form of aggression.” 

“Honest and sustainable de-escalation steps, which can only go via the route of talks, are all the more important now. I will not tire of stressing that the door to such talks is still open to Russia,” he said.

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss also reinforced NATO’s support for Ukraine.

“We have seen this playbook from the Kremlin before when Russia falsely claimed its illegal annexation of Crimea was a response to NATO aggression,” Truss said in a statement. “NATO is an alliance forged on the principle of defense, not provocation. Any suggestion that NATO is provoking the Russians is clearly false.”

“Any action by Russia to undermine the freedom and democracy that our partners enjoy would be a strategic mistake,” she added.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, however, said that it was NATO that was causing trouble in the region.

ADVERTISEMENT

“Significant units and military equipment of NATO countries, including the U.S. and Britain, are being deployed closer to our borders,” Lavrov said at a press conference in Moscow, per the AP, claiming that the West was pushing Ukraine “into anti-Russian actions.”

In the meantime, Belarusian Defense Minister Viktor Khrenin said that Belarus would join Russia in military drills “to cover the southern borders” with Ukraine. 

Because Ukraine is not a member of NATO, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg noted that the country does not have the collective security guarantee from which other NATO members benefit, making economic measures the more likely route to inflict costs on Russia, according to the AP.