Secretary general Jens Stoltenberg visits Kiev as Russian foreign minister pledges ‘full support’ to Kyiv
Tensions between Russia and western powers over Ukraine have escalated, with Nato chief Jens Stoltenberg warning Moscow that it could face “more costs” if it intervenes in the east.
He also denied reports that the UN had laid the groundwork for possible military action against Moscow, but acknowledged that Washington could soon deploy American forces to reassure eastern European allies.
Stoltenberg, who on Tuesday visited Kyiv after spending time in a Kremlin-backed region of east Ukraine, also said “all options are on the table” to address the threat posed by Russian interference to the Ukrainian government.
“There are those who think Russia is not in trouble today. I have to tell you that this is not the case,” he said after talks with the Ukrainian president, Petro Poroshenko.
“Over the last 10 days it has been clear that Russia is not only breaking the ceasefire, but is actually stepping up its military buildup,” he said.
In the past month, the United States, Britain and France have all conducted air, naval and ground exercises in the Baltic states.
Asked whether the US might implement a military option against Russia, Stoltenberg said: “All options are on the table.”
However, in a phone call with Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, Stoltenberg denied reports of a UN resolution prepared that could have triggered military action against Moscow.
He told the Russia 24 channel of television that he had asked Lavrov that “the draft should not be presented at the Security Council”.
Kiev and the west have accused Russia of military involvement in recent days in the fight for control of the strategic city of Debaltseve, near the strategic Ukrainian port of Mariupol.
Russia has denied it has sent troops and heavy weapons into Ukraine’s east, where Kiev’s military says it is battling pro-Russian separatists, and Lavrov said on Tuesday that Moscow had delivered “hundreds of trucks” in aid to the war-ravaged eastern regions.
“Regarding the reports that Russian troops have entered a section of Ukraine, we express surprise and just the opposite we [expect] a clarification,” Stoltenberg said.