As NATO gathered in Brussels, Belgium for a two-day summit, NATO’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg stressed that although some differences exist between NATO and Russia, it must not lead to Russia’s isolation, as some in the alliance have called for.
Stoltenberg went on to say:
“We do not recognize the annexation of Crimea, we do not recognize [Russian] propaganda, actions in cyberspace, interference in elections, we saw the incident in Salisbury. But I do not consider these to be an argument for Russia’s isolation.”
Previously, the secretary-general has repeatedly stressed that even in case there is no improvement in NATO-Russia relations, contacts between the parties are necessary to prevent further escalation of relations.
Earlier in the day, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu in an interview with Il Giornale newspaper criticized NATO for moving up its bases close to the Russian border.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization has been further boosting its military presence in Europe since 2014, while using the Ukrainian crisis as a pretext for the deployment of additional hardware near Russia’s borders. Russia has on numerous occasions expressed serious concern about NATO’s military buildup along its western frontiers. During a meeting of the country’s Security Council in April, President Vladimir Putin said that NATO was trying to provoke new conflicts and stoke up old ones in the former Soviet republics.
Meanwhile, a tense moment occurred between US President Donald Trump and Stoltenberg arguing over the contradiction that NATO members continue to trade with Russia while continuously funding an anti-Russian military alliance: