Live Feed of Stoltenberg’s press conference:
Calling it a “full-ledged invasion of Ukraine” Stoltenberg said Russia’s actions will bring “severe costs” on Moscow “for many years to come”. Stoltenberg cited a NATO build-up of forces on its ‘eastern flank’ -saying that over 100 jets are on “high alert” – further with a total of 120 ships “from the high north” down to the Mediterranean, which includes three carrier strike groups.
“We will do what it takes to protect and defend every ally and every inch of NATO territory,” he said. “We must continue our support to Ukraine.” He underscored that while the Kremlin is trying to make us provide “less support” – this means our collective answer must be “more support” including to Georgie and Moldova, he said.
“More than ever this crisis demonstrates the importance of North America and Europe standing together in NATO.”
Interestingly and quite worrisome, while stressing the need for “deconfliction” – Stoltenberg said that theoretically Article 5 ‘collective defense’ could be triggered in the event of a major cyberattack. He said this when pressed on the issue by a reporter:
Stoltenberg said: “On cyber, well we have stated that cyberattacks can trigger Article 5 but we have never gone into the position where we give a potential adversary of defining exactly when we trigger Article 5.”
Later in the Q&A, he said, “We have increased the readiness of the NATO Response Force… We have allies – the United States but also the United Kingdom – that have increased readiness of [their] forces… I am not saying we have deployed the whole force.”
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Back-to-back emergency meetings of NATO heads, the Group of Seven, and the European Union have kicked off Thursday, after Joe Biden arrived in Brussels late Wednesday. All are expected to draw up plans on how to respond to Putin’s war in Ukraine, also with President Zelensky addressing the NATO chiefs, and it’s being reported he has not specifically appealed for a no-fly zone in the address, while he has alleged the usage of banned substances and munitions.
Aside from likely more sanctions to be announced, particularly from the US against hundreds of Russan lawmakers, the G7 participants are gearing up to issue a statement warning of “severe consequences” should Russia continue military operations to overtake Ukraine, and warnings against escalating any actions against outside countries, especially NATO soil.
Bloomberg is reporting that the G7 and likely NATO heads too plan to warn Moscow over any scenario in which it deploys chemical or nuclear weapons.
The report indicates, “The U.S. is working with NATO to prepare for possible biological or nuclear attacks by Russia as the world’s leading developed nations plan to warn President Vladimir Putin against deploying such weapons.”
A draft statement obtained by Bloomberg reads as follows:
“We task the relevant ministers in a focused initiative to monitor the full implementation of sanctions and to coordinate responses related to evasive measures, including regarding gold transactions by the Central Bank of Russia.”
World leaders present for all three summits, including Biden, are hoping to present a unified front – also toward coordinating the economic blowback from sanctions, and particularly the Russian energy question and Europe.
Ukrainian President @ZelenskyyUa asks NATO for more military assistance in pre-recorded video speech released by Ukrainian presidency -Reuters
— Doina Chiacu (@DoinaChiacu) March 24, 2022
On the chemical weapons allegation, so far no Western capital has actually alleged their usage by Russian forces now a month into the conflict, but during Zelensky’s speech he leveled charges that phosphorus munitions had been used – however, which over the past two decades of the ‘war on terror’ the Pentagon has been accused of deploying many times in places like Iraq.
“This morning … phosphorus bombs were used. Russian phosphorus bombs. Adults were killed again and children were killed again,” he told the NATO representatives, though without citing evidence.
Zelensky called for “effective and unrestricted” support, especially more weapons…
“Come to your squares, your streets. Make yourselves visible and heard,” Zelenskyy said in English during an emotional video address late Wednesday. “Say that people matter. Freedom matters. Peace matters. Ukraine matters,” he urged in the message, recorded in the dark near the presidential offices in Kyiv.
One interesting, and perhaps controversial assertion of Zelensky during the pre-recorded speech, was this: “The only thing I demand from you after a month of war – never say that the Ukrainian army doesn’t meet the NATO standards.” This as the widespread perception is that Ukraine is doing much better at blunting the massive Russian invasion force than expected.
Below: NATO heads pose for group photo upon start of extraordinary session of NATO to address Ukraine war…
The NATO summit had kicked off Thursday morning with Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg saying solemnly, “We gather at a critical time for our security.” He added: “We are determined to continue to impose costs on Russia to bring about an end to this brutal war.”
“We are all doing more on land, at sea and in the air,” he continued. “This is necessary to respond to the new security reality in Europe.” He stressed that leaders gathered there would work to “strengthen our defenses now and for the years to come.”