The new Secretary General of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg, says he will seek “a constructive relationship with Russia” in order to overcome the current stage of confrontation.
The former Norwegian Prime Minister, who took possession Wednesday in front of the Atlantic Alliance, seeks to balance a difficult situation to reconcile two positions: the realization that Russia has violated international law with the annexation of the Crimea and the search for a new dialogue with the Kremlin.
“Russia has violated international law. We need to see a change in their behavior. But even then we must aspire to a constructive relationship with Russia. I see no contradiction between these two elements,” he said in his first appearance before the press.
With these words, Stoltenberg wants to make people believe he has a more moderate position than his predecessor, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, referring to the role of Moscow in the conflict in Ukraine.
Amid a truce that he considers “a chance” Stoltenberg says such situation is “fragile,” as he says he will try to reduce the confrontation with the Kremlin, even while recalling that Moscow “maintains its ability to destabilize Ukraine.”
Sources of the organization have ensured that the Russian military presence inside the neighboring country, reported this summer by NATO, has fallen to waste figures. Neither NATO nor the United States have provided concrete proof that the government of Russia sent active duty soldiers to Ukraine. The Kremlin did accept that off-duty soldiers did cross into Ukraine to help in the fight against Kiev’s aggression.
Just some special forces remain, NATO says, but now there are only insignificant numbers compared to the more than 1,000 Russian soldiers that were positioned inside Ukraine. NATO says that Russia has about 20,000 troops at the border, but on Russian side.
In this context, NATO maintains plans to strengthen its presence in Eastern Europe, where it has no permanent bases in countries that border with Russia, although it does have unofficial agreements with countries and supports aerial patrols over the Baltic countries.
In addition, NATO maintains a naval deployment in the Black Sea, which directly violates its promise not to expand in the region and to respect the 1997 agreement that the North Atlantic Organization signed with Russia.
Stoltenberg, who served as Labor prime minister between 2005 and 2013, warned that NATO will also continue with its the rotation of forces in Eastern Europe.
The force for immediate action is a result of NATO’s effort to attempt to isolate Russia, as it guarantees the ability to deploy troops anywhere in a matter of days. These new force will be ready in February, according to Stoltenberg, who on Wednesday chaired his first Atlantic Council, the highest decision making body of the NATO alliance.
Regarding the crisis in Iraq and Syria, Stoltenberg has been limited to “welcome the actions of the United States against the Islamic State“. He, however, did not speak anything about compromising the alliance of states as a participant in the bombing of the region.
Still, he said, NATO remains committed to collective defense, enshrined in Article five of its statutes, “and that also applies to Turkey,” said Stoltenberg, so that if the country was attacked directly, the Alliance would defend it.
The Allies did have the intention of helping Iraq with training missions and improving military capabilities if requested. So far it has not happened, says Stoltenberg.
Luis R. Miranda is the Founder and Editor of The Real Agenda. His 16 years of experience in Journalism include television, radio, print and Internet news. Luis obtained his Journalism degree from Universidad Latina de Costa Rica, where he graduated in Mass Media Communication in 1998. He also holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Broadcasting from Montclair State University in New Jersey. Among his most distinguished interviews are: Costa Rican President Jose Maria Figueres and James Hansen from NASA Space Goddard Institute. Read more about Luis.