NATO Leader Says Alliance Is Hoping for Best, Preparing for Worst 

1 year ago

NATO is hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst, alliance Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said today as he opened meetings of the alliance's defense ministers in Brussels. 

"We face a dangerous moment for European security," he said. "Russia has amassed an invasion force on the borders of Ukraine. At the same time, there are signs from Moscow that diplomacy should continue. This gives grounds for cautious optimism. However, we have not, so far, seen any sign of de-escalation on the ground."   

Defense leaders from the 30-nation alliance will examine the next moves. Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III is representing the United States at the meeting of defense ministers.   

Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered around 150,000 troops into areas along Russia's border with Ukraine including 30,000 troops in Belarus that could be used to invade Ukraine, President Joe Biden said in an update on the situation yesterday.  

NATO is a defensive alliance and is no threat to Russia, Stoltenberg said. The alliance is ready to engage in dialogue with Russia in hopes of finding a diplomatic way forward.   

"But while we continue to work for the best, we must also be prepared for the worst," he said. "We will do what is necessary to protect and defend all allies."   

The United States sent 1,000 soldiers from a Stryker squadron from Germany to Romania. An infantry brigade combat team is deploying from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, to Poland and the Army's 18th Airborne Corps is establishing a headquarters element in Germany.  

In addition, Austin placed 8,500 service members on heightened state of readiness should NATO activate its Rapid Reaction Force.   

"Today, we will consider how we should enhance our deterrence and defense posture and pursue our diplomatic efforts," the secretary general said.  

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