Russia warns NATO over 'amount of military hardware' at its border

NATO warns Moscow it will pay a ‘high price’ if it uses force against Ukraine as Russia accuses the alliance of sending ‘a significant amount of military hardware’ to its borders

  • NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg arrived at summit in Latvia Tuesday 
  • ‘There will be a high price to pay for Russia if they once again use force,’ he said
  • Russia has stationed more than 94,000 troops along the border with Ukraine
  • Washington has told Europe to brace for invasion. Putin denies any plan to attack
  • NATO has warned Moscow it will pay a ‘high price’ if it uses force against Ukraine in the latest exchange of barbs after Russia accused the bloc of sending a ‘significant amount of military hardware’ to its borders. 

    Vladimir Putin has sent some 94,000 troops to the Ukrainian frontier and the White House has warned Europe to brace for an invasion that would dwarf the 2014 annexation of the Crimea.  

    ‘There will be a high price to pay for Russia if they once again use force against the independence of the nation, Ukraine,’ NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Tuesday as he arrived for a meeting of foreign ministers in Riga, Latvia.  

    He warned that ‘we can sustain heavy economic and financial sanctions’ against Moscow and said ‘we have increased our presence here in the region, both in the Black Sea region but also in the Baltic region.’

    Vladimir Putin vowed to protect Russia’s ‘red lines’ but downplayed there was any threat of invasion, saying that similar accusations were made earlier this year.  

    Vladimir Putin (pictured in Sochi last week) warned the West and Ukraine against crossing the Kremlin's 'red lines' but downplayed there was any threat of invasion, saying that similar accusations were made earlier this year

    Vladimir Putin (pictured in Sochi last week) warned the West and Ukraine against crossing the Kremlin’s ‘red lines’ but downplayed there was any threat of invasion, saying that similar accusations were made earlier this year

    'We are very concerned about the movements we've seen along Ukraine's border. We know that Russia often combines those efforts with internal efforts to destabilize a country. That's part of the playbook, and we're looking at it very closely,' U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken (pictured in Pittsburgh in September) said

    ‘We are very concerned about the movements we’ve seen along Ukraine’s border. We know that Russia often combines those efforts with internal efforts to destabilize a country. That’s part of the playbook, and we’re looking at it very closely,’ U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken (pictured in Pittsburgh in September) said

    A map shared with Military Times earlier this month and replicated above shows how Ukrainian intelligence is bracing for a bloody and ferocious invasion that could see swathes of Ukraine captured in an assault which would dwarf the annexation of the Crimea in 2014

    A map shared with Military Times earlier this month and replicated above shows how Ukrainian intelligence is bracing for a bloody and ferocious invasion that could see swathes of Ukraine captured in an assault which would dwarf the annexation of the Crimea in 2014

    ‘Look, they spoke about a possible Russian military intervention in Ukraine at the beginning of the year. But as you see this did not happen,’ Putin said at an investor conference on Tuesday.

    ‘It is not about intervening or not intervening, fighting or not fighting. It’s about mending ties,’ Putin said, adding that it was important to take into account the security interests of all parties.

    ‘If we sincerely strive to achieve this then no one will feel threatened.’

    Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said last week that his country’s intelligence service had uncovered plans for a Russia-backed coup d’etat. Russia denied the allegation and rejected the assertion that it is planning to invade Ukraine.

    ‘We are very concerned about the movements we’ve seen along Ukraine’s border. We know that Russia often combines those efforts with internal efforts to destabilize a country. That’s part of the playbook, and we’re looking at it very closely,’ U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said.

    ‘Any renewed aggression would trigger serious consequences,’ Blinken warned ahead of talks in Riga, Latvia with his counterparts in the 30-country military organisation.

    The new buildup follows a similar surge in the spring, when Russia gathered around 100,000 troops on Ukraine’s borders but later announced a drawdown.

    Putin said Moscow was concerned by Western moves to conduct large-scale previously unannounced military drills near Russia’s borders, singling out US-led exercises in the Black Sea.

    Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky held a dramatic press conference in Kiev last Friday. The president said: 'We have challenges not only from the Russian Federation and possible escalation - we have big internal challenges. I received information that a coup d'etat will take place in our country on December 1-2.'

    Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky held a dramatic press conference in Kiev last Friday. The president said: ‘We have challenges not only from the Russian Federation and possible escalation – we have big internal challenges. I received information that a coup d’etat will take place in our country on December 1-2.’

    Separately, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov lobbed a series of new accusations against Kiev and said Russia reserved the right to respond if its security was threatened.

    ‘We simply don’t have the right to exclude that the Kiev regime may embark on a military adventure. This all creates a direct threat to Russia’s security,’ Lavrov told reporters, speaking alongside his Brazilian counterpart Carlos Franca.

    ‘If the West is unable to contain Ukraine, but, on the contrary, will incite it, then of course, we will take all the necessary steps to ensure our reliable security.’

    Lavrov said Ukrainian military manoeuvres and use of drones in the country’s east, held by pro-Russian separatists, posed a threat to Russia, and it was ready to respond if needed.

    ‘We simply cannot rule out the possibility that Kyiv will set out on a military adventure,’ he told a news conference in Moscow. 

    A plane performs a flight during military drills of the Ukrainian Air Assault Forces in Zhytomyr Region, Ukraine November 21, 2021

    A plane performs a flight during military drills of the Ukrainian Air Assault Forces in Zhytomyr Region, Ukraine November 21, 2021

    A Russian-backed separatist holds a machine gun inside a trench along the frontline outside the rebel-held city of Donetsk, Ukraine

    A Russian-backed separatist holds a machine gun inside a trench along the frontline outside the rebel-held city of Donetsk, Ukraine

    A Ukrainian soldier along with a tank taking part in drills in Kherson region, Ukraine, November 17, 2021

    A Ukrainian soldier along with a tank taking part in drills in Kherson region, Ukraine, November 17, 2021

    ‘President Putin stressed that we do not need conflict but if the West cannot hold back Ukraine – and on the contrary encourages it – of course we will take all the necessary steps to ensure our security.’ 

    Last week Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that Russia was sending ‘very dangerous’ signals with troop movements on the border, warning that his military was ready to push back any offensive.

    Moscow, which seized Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and backs separatists fighting Kiev, has strongly denied it is plotting an attack and blames NATO for fuelling tensions.

    The conflict in the east has claimed more than 13,000 lives since 2014. 

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