Thursday 26 May 2022
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Nato forces on standby as tension over Ukraine rises

The Kremlin denies it is planning to attack Ukraine and argues that Nato support for the country constitutes a growing threat on Russia's western flank

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In what appears like an impending war, Nato allies have instructed their respective forces to be on standby, sending additional ships and fighter jets to eastern Europe, after weeks of rising tensions, as a build-up of Russian troops near the border with Ukraine prompts fears that Moscow may be planning to an invasion. “Nato will continue to take all necessary measures to protect and defend all Allies, including by reinforcing the eastern part of the Alliance,” Nato Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said in a statement today, welcoming the allies’ extra contributions to the military alliance.

“We will always respond to any deterioration of our security environment, including through strengthening our collective defence,” the Nato secretary-general said.

The Kremlin denies it is planning to attack Ukraine and argues that Nato support for the country constitutes a growing threat on Russia’s western flank. Latvia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Edgars Rinkēvič has called on Nato to address the “continuous” Russian and Belarusian military build-up on Ukraine’s borders, with “appropriate” countermeasures.

Rinkēvičs tweeted today: “We are reaching the point where continuous Russian and Belarusian military buildup in needs to be addressed by appropriate Nato countermeasures.”

“It is time to increase allied forces presence in the Alliance’s Eastern flank both as measures of defense and deterrence,” the minister said.

US President Joe Biden discussed options for bolstering US troop levels in the Baltics and Eastern with his top military officials during a briefing at Camp David on Saturday, according to a senior official.

Yesterday, the US State Department announced that it would reduce staff levels at the US Embassy in Kyiv, Ukraine, out of an “abundance of caution,” beginning with the departure of nonessential staff and family members.

Speaking to reporters on his way into the EU Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels on Monday, the bloc’s chief diplomat Josep Borrell said no decision had been made on ordering diplomatic staff and their families to leave Ukraine. “We are not going to do the same thing, because we don’t know any specific reasons,” said Borrell.

The UK Foreign Office also announced today that some British Embassy staff and dependents are being withdrawn from Kyiv in response to growing threats from Russia.

Representatives from the four countries involved in the “Normandy Format” talks — France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine — will meet on Wednesday to discuss the situation in Ukraine, an Élysée spokesperson has confirmed.

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