New Telegraph

NATO Chief Cautions Members Not To Underestimate Russia

NATO’s chief, Jens Stoltenberg on Tuesday said that the power of Russia’s military shouldn’t be underestimated following the weekend mutiny against it by Wagner Group mercenaries.

According to him, the alliance has increased its readiness to confront Russia in recent days.

Speaking further, Stoltenberg said the alliance may decide to further boost its strength and readiness to face Russia and its ally, Belarus when NATO leaders meet in the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius on July 11 and 12.

”So, no misunderstanding and no room for misunderstanding in Moscow or Minsk about our ability to defend our allies against any potential threat,” Stoltenberg said.

The leaders agreed that, given the short-lived revolt by Wagner fighters in Russia over the weekend, the allies should continue to bolster their forces along NATO’s eastern flank to discourage Russian President, Vladimir Putin from attempting to widen his war.

NATO responded to Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 by deploying multinational battle groups in Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria.

They complement another four deployed in 2017 in the three Baltic states and Poland, to expand NATO’s presence from the Baltics to the Black Sea.

On Monday, Germany said that it stands ready to permanently base forces in Lithuania if needed.

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Rutte and Stoltenberg met with the presidents of Romania and Poland and leaders of Belgium, Norway, Albania, and Lithuania at the Dutch leader’s official residence in a leafy suburb of The Hague.

Earlier today, Russian authorities said they had closed a criminal investigation into the aborted armed rebellion led by Prigozhin and are pressing no charges against him or his troops.

The mutiny by Wagner Group forces lasted less than 24 hours but formed the latest twist in a series of events that have brought the gravest threat to Putin’s grip on power in the 16-month-old war in Ukraine.

The war led Sweden and Finland to seek to join NATO.

Finland has already become the alliance’s latest member, but Sweden’s membership is being held up by Turkey.

On Monday, Stoltenberg said he will call an urgent meeting in the coming days to try to overcome Turkish objections to Sweden joining the military organization, in a last-ditch effort to have the Nordic country standing alongside the allies at the July summit in Lithuania.

 

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