NATO officials to discuss long-lasting consequences of Russia, Ukraine conflict

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The NATO flag flies in Brussels, Belgium, during the June 2021 summit of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

NATO defense ministers will discuss the long-lasting consequences of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine when they meet in Brussels on Wednesday.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters before the meeting that the gathering will “of course address the brutal invasion of Ukraine by Russia,” as the conflict inches closer to its fourth week.

“This is devastating for the Ukrainian people, and it will also change our security environment,” Stoltenberg told reporters, according to CNBC. “It will have long-lasting consequences for our security for all NATO allies.”

Stoltenberg said the ministers would talk about the sudden consequences of Russia’s invasion in addition to the longer-term impacts, according to CNBC. Those topics include the “long-term adaptation of our alliance” and ways to “remove any room for misunderstanding and miscalculation in Moscow about our readiness to protect and defend all our allies.”

NATO last week announced that the defense ministers from the North Atlantic Council would meet on Wednesday at the alliance’s headquarters in Ukraine. It comes amid Russia’s continued invasion of the former Soviet state, which has shown no signs of abatement thus far. 

Stoltenberg told reporters ahead of the meeting that tens of thousands of troops have already been put on “heightened alert” in response to Russia’s aggression — 100,000 American troops are in Europe and 40,000 troops subject to NATO’s order have been dispatched to the group’s eastern flank, according to CNBC.

The secretary general pointed to the alliance’s strong military presence in the region.

“Of course, the United States [is] playing a key role in these efforts,” Stoltenberg said, according to CNBC. “More U.S. troops in Europe is a strong message of transatlantic unity, and we are extremely grateful for your support to what we do together in the eastern part of the alliance.”

He said it is the alliance’s “responsibility to ensure that this crisis does not escalate beyond Ukraine, and that’s also the reason we have increased our presence in the eastern part of the alliance.”

President Biden is scheduled to travel to Brussels later this month to attend a NATO summit to discuss ongoing deterrence and defense efforts connected to the Russian invasion. White House press secretary Jen Psaki also said the president will reaffirm the U.S.’s “ironclad commitment” to the organization.

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