Sanctions and military deterrence continue, says NATO chief
Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a session of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) in St. Petersburg, Russia, June 4, 2021.
Vladimir Smirnov | Sputnik | via Reuters
NATO will continue to strengthen its military capabilities and use a “wide combination of different tools” to counter Russian aggression, but it does not aim to “emulate” its rival power, the organization’s chief said on Sunday. at CNBC.
“NATO’s approach to Russia is based on what we call a two-track approach, defense and dialogue,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told CNBC’s Hadley Gamble since Brussels.
“And that is exactly what we are doing when we have now implemented the greatest reinforcements of our collective defense since the end of the Cold War, and will continue to strengthen our collective defense with a high level of readiness, more troops. and increased investment in our defense. ”
He added: “And after years of cutting defense budgets, all of our (members) are now investing more. So we’re not going to duplicate what Russia is doing. But we will respond very firmly and clearly, with a wide combination of different tools, as we have demonstrated in recent years. “
The comments precede a planned summit between US President Joe Biden and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Geneva on June 16. They follow Putin’s interview with NBC News on Saturday, in which the Russian leader said US-Russian relations “have deteriorated.” at its lowest point in recent years. “
Stoltenberg expanded on the subject of nuclear weapons, asserting that “when it comes to land-based nuclear missiles, NATO’s position for several years since the demise of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty has been that we don’t plan to deploy new ground-based nuclear-capable missiles. The United States under former President Donald Trump withdrew from the Cold War-era treaty in 2019, after accusing Russia of violating it.
“But we will make sure to respond to new Russian military reinforcements, including with nuclear weapons,” he said. “And we are doing it in different ways, including strengthening our air and missile defense… and also, of course, continuing arms control and that is part of the dialogue with Russia.”
“Sanctions are important”
Stoltenberg also discussed sanctions, the specter of which hangs over Russia, with the Biden administration pledging to take a tougher line on Russia than Trump did.
“The sanctions are important,” he said, adding that those imposed for Russia’s annexation of the Crimean peninsula by Ukraine in 2014 should “continue” alongside “increased support for close partners. such as Ukraine and Georgia “.
The Biden administration imposed a a series of new sanctions against Moscow in April for alleged interference in the 2020 elections, a colossal cyberattack on the US government and corporate networks, the illegal annexation and occupation of Crimea and human rights violations. The Russian government denies all the allegations.
“Perhaps the most important thing we have done is that for the first time in NATO history we have combat ready troops in the eastern part of the Alliance,” Stoltenberg said. “New battle groups are deployed in the Baltic States and in Poland, we have tripled the size of NATO’s readiness force.”
Russia has accumulated a huge military build-up in the Arctic, according to Satellite imagery, and develops a new “super-weapon” called the Torpedo Poseidon 2M39, which raised concern among Western officials. The unmanned stealth torpedo, powered by a nuclear reactor, is designed to pass through countries’ coastal defenses via the seabed.
In April, Moscow sparked fear and confusion with a massive military build-up on the border with Ukraine, prompting the US European Command to increase its level of awareness of a “potential impending crisis” before withdrawing. Western officials blame him for the large-scale and highly sophisticated SolarWinds hack against US government agencies in 2020. Russia denies any involvement.
Biden also said Russia “had some responsibility” for dealing with the hackers behind the devastating May Colonial Pipeline cyberattack, although the White House did not blame the Kremlin for it, as officials Americans associate the attack with a group of hackers in Russia. Russian government spokespersons have dismissed any link between their country and piracy.
But a sign that he may anticipate more sanctions, Russia’s finance minister announced earlier in June that the country was slashing the US dollar from its National Wealth Fund by $ 186 billion as Washington continues to impose sanctions. financial institutions in Moscow.
“The message is’ we don’t need the United States, we don’t need to trade in dollars and we are invulnerable to further US sanctions,” “said Timothy Ash, senior emerging markets strategist, in a research note after the ad.
Biden made a bold affront to Putin in March, calling him a “killer” in a TV interview, to which Putin replied: “When we characterize other people, or even when we characterize other states, it is it’s always like we’re looking in the mirror. “
Asked again this weekend about Biden’s “killer” comment, Putin said. “It’s not something that worries me in the least.”
“We are not looking to come into conflict with Russia,” Biden said ahead of the summit.
“We want a stable and predictable relationship … but I have been clear: the United States will respond in a strong and meaningful way if the Russian government engages in harmful activities.”
– CNBC’s Sam Shead contributed to this report.