NATO officials are scheduled to meet on Wednesday for the first time since Russian President Vladimir Putin annexed several Ukrainian territories, announced a mobilization, and issued veiled nuclear threats.
NATO officials say Putin’s recent attacks against Ukraine are classified as a clear escalation of the war in eastern Europe and add the western military alliance would meet attacks on its allies with a “united and determined response.”
Jens Stoltenberg, NATO’s chief, Wednesday pledged to boost the protection of critical infrastructure and added that the military alliance had already doubled its presence in the Baltic and North Seas to more than 30 ships which are supported by aircraft and undersea activities.
While addressing NATO’s defense ministers, Stoltenberg said the alliance had not seen any changes in Russia’s nuclear posture and that NATO would maintain vigilance while proceeding with its annual nuclear “Steadfast Noon” exercise scheduled for next week.
“Cancelling the drills because of the war in Ukraine would send a very wrong signal,” said Stoltenberg, adding “It’s an exercise to ensure that our nuclear deterrent remains safe, secure and effective.”
In response to western allegations of Russia potentially using nuclear weapons, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Moscow classifies the western sentiments as harmful and provocative.
“We express our daily regret that western heads of state engage in nuclear rhetoric every day,” said Peskov, adding, “such a practice is provocative.”