Russia will face serious consequences if it uses force against Ukraine, the head of NATO said Tuesday.
“We call on Russia to be transparent, de-escalate and reduce tensions,” Jens Stoltenberg said at a news conference after the first day of a NATO foreign ministers’ conference.
He warned that “aggression against Ukraine would come at a high price and have serious political and economic consequences for Russia.”
Top diplomats gathered in Latvia’s capital of Riga for a two-day conference to discuss the most pressing security issues for the Alliance.
On the first day, the ministers touched on Russia’s military build-up in and around Ukraine, the Belarus border crisis and NATO’s role in international arms control.
“It is necessary to look into the possibilities that Russia may consider once again to use force,” said Stoltenberg. “The situation in around Ukraine remains fluid and unpredictable. There is no certainty about Russia's intentions.”
He argued that Russia’s “significant, unusual concentration of forces” was alarming since it is accompanied by a “heightened rhetoric” and Moscow’s record of using force against its neighbors, Ukraine and Georgia.
“We can always hope for the best but we need to be prepared for the worst,” he said, adding that NATO will keep its defense and deterrence strong while remaining open for dialogue.
Ukrainian and Georgian top diplomats will join their NATO counterparts on the second day of the summit./aa