(The hill) – NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Sunday that “Russia is preparing to invade Ukraine”, pointing to the increase in Moscow’s troops on the Ukrainian border and the continuation of military exercises in the region.
“Last week, in fact, Russia said it would retreat – Russia is building more troops and higher and even closer to the Ukrainian border,” Stoltenberg said during a speech on CBS “Facing the Nation.”
“As well as the fact that these exercises, they say, should end today, will continue now. So all this fits into the picture that Russia is preparing to invade Ukraine, ”he added, referring to joint Russian exercises with Belarus.
Asked by moderator Margaret Brennan, or President of Russia Vladimir Putin Observing some of the strategic nuclear exercises over the weekend was an attempt to intimidate NATO, Stoltenberg said, “it’s a way for them to demonstrate all the capabilities they have.”
“These are regular exercises, but they were scheduled for last fall, and now they are taking place in the midst of this significant build-up of Russian troops in and around Ukraine with the highest concentration of troops we have seen in Europe since the end of the Cold War,” he said.
Stoltenberg’s comments follow President Biden on Friday said there is “Convinced” that Putin “made a decision” to invade Ukraine. Biden, however, stressed that the diplomatic path forward remains open if Putin decides to de-escalate.
One of Russia’s demands amid rising tensions is that the United States and NATO ban Ukraine from joining the military alliance. However, the United States and allies have said such a request is not the beginning.
Stoltenberg said on Sunday that there was no deadline for Ukraine’s accession to NATO, stressing that member states would determine the way forward.
“We have not set any deadlines for this, but NATO allies were very clear that the decision on membership should be made by Ukraine and 30 NATO allies, not Russia,” he said.