The NATO chief says Russia would pay ‘high price’ for Ukraine’s aggression

  • Stoltenberg asks Russia not to use force against Ukraine
  • NATO is following Russia’s missile development very closely

LONDON, Dec. 1 (Reuters) – NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg on Wednesday warned Russia against using force against neighboring Ukraine, telling Reuters that Moscow knows it would pay a high price through sanctions and other steps from the West for any aggression.

Ukraine, a former Soviet republic now striving to join the European Union and NATO, has become the main hotspot between Russia and the West, as relations have soured to the worst level in the three decades since Cold War ended.

“We all made it very clear that there will be a high price to pay, and sanctions are one of the options,” Stoltenberg said in an interview at the Reuters Next conference.

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Russia says it has no plans to invade Ukraine.

“I think it’s pretty obvious that Russia already knows they will pay a higher price,” Stoltenberg added.

The NATO chief said new economic sanctions against Russia – which the EU and the US, along with Britain and Canada, could impose – were a powerful tool.

President Vladimir Putin has said that Russia would be forced to act if US-led NATO placed missiles in Ukraine that could hit Moscow within minutes.

Stoltenberg said it was publicly known that the Allies were providing military support to Ukraine and that this was defensive and in line with all Allies’ international obligations. Ukraine is considered a close partner of NATO, but is not yet a member of the Western Alliance of 30 countries.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaks at the NATO Foreign Ministers’ Summit in Riga, Latvia on 1 December 2021. REUTERS / Ints Kalnins


Stoltenberg denied allegations that the alliance provoked Moscow with military exercises in the Black Sea, and in return blamed Russia for using military exercises as a disguise to attack neighboring countries.

Unlike Russia, NATO always followed the rules of inviting foreign observers to its exercises, said Stoltenberg, a former Norwegian prime minister who is set to leave the top NATO post by the end of next year. He declined to comment on the search for his successor.

“The problem with Russia is that they are not transparent, that they have a very aggressive rhetoric and a track record that shows that they have used military exercises before as a disguise for aggressive actions against neighbors,” he said.

Stoltenberg said the Western alliance is working closely together to protect allies from new Chinese and Russian missiles that could reach Europe and North America.

“Russia, but also China, is now investing heavily in nuclear-capable systems that can reach all NATO countries,” Stoltenberg said.

“This is something we have to take very seriously,” he added, referring to Russian investment in extremely long-range, high-speed, maneuverable missiles.

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Further reporting by Robin Emmott, John Chalmers, Sabine Siebold in Brussels; Editing by Alexander Smith

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