Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba urged the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to prepare a series of economic sanctions against Russia to deter a possible invasion by tens of thousands of Russian troops massed on the edge of its border.
The relationship between Ukraine and Russia is at its most critical point since the Cold War. Thousands of Russian soldiers are currently on the border threatening an imminent invasion.
In view of this situation the Ukrainian government will turn to NATO, reported Reuters, to request intervention in the event that Russia does indeed advance without respecting the dividing border between the two neighboring countries.
“We will call on the allies to join Ukraine in putting together a deterrence package,” Kuleba told reporters as he arrived for talks in Riga.
According to Kuleba, should Russia “decide to choose the worst-case scenario,” it should boost military and defense cooperation with Ukraine, as well as include a series of economic sanctions.
In parallel, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg stressed that the organization has no obligation to defend Ukraine from Russia.
“It is important to distinguish between Nato allies and partner Ukraine. Nato allies, there we provide [Article 5] guarantees, collective defence guarantees, and we will defend and protect all allies. Ukraine is a partner, a highly-valued partner,” Stoltenberg added, making his position on the conflict clear.
In this respect, he defined a difference with Latvia and other Baltic countries such as Poland and Romania, whom he defined as true allies, while Ukraine remains a “close partner” with whom there is no responsibility to provide security guarantees.
Ukraine is not a member of NATO, but the U.S.-led alliance had said in the past that it is committed to preserving the sovereignty of the former Soviet republic, which has been leaning toward the West since 2014 and aspires to join both NATO and the European Union. This is why Stoltenberg’s words came as a surprise to the international community.
For its part, Russia warned on Tuesday that it was ready with a newly tested hypersonic weapon in case NATO crossed its “red lines” and deployed missiles in Ukraine.
Putin expressed interest in deepening serious negotiations with the United States and its allies to extract legal guarantees that would rule out “any further NATO moves to the east and the deployment of weapons systems that threaten us in close proximity to Russian territory.”
In an official meeting with Kuleba last November 10, U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken expressed his concern regarding Russia re-invading Ukraine as it did in 2014 when it entered Crimea by force and annexed it to Russian territory.
According to Ukrainian intelligence sources, there are almost 100,000 Russian troops on the border conducting military exercises.
John Kirby, press secretary of the Department of Defense, said that the Russian military presence was “unusual in its size and scope,” and that the U.S. was “monitoring this very closely.”
The press secretary detailed that there is intense Russian military activity on the Ukrainian border and that the U.S. government is unclear about the Russian government’s objective and intentions.