Stoltenberg: NATO Considering Increasing Presence in Eastern Flank on Long-term Basis
15:43 GMT 07.02.2022 (Updated: 18:21 GMT 07.02.2022)
MOSCOW (Sputnik) - NATO is considering the possibility of increasing its presence in the eastern flank of the alliance on a long-term basis, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Monday.
"We are considering a more longer-term adjustment so our posture, our presence in eastern part of the alliance, No final decision has been made on that but there is a process now going on within NATO also of course in close consultations with our military commanders, to adjust our presence in the eastern part of the alliance to further strengthen our deterrence and defense," Stoltenberg told a press conference.
Commenting on a recent Russia-China joint statement, Stoltenberg said that Beijing has joined Moscow for the first time in urging NATO not to expand any further.
On Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, signed a statement on International Relations Entering a New Era and Global Sustainable Development, in which the sides, inter alia, opposed "further enlargement of NATO."
"For the first time China joins on Russia in calling on NATO to stop admitting new members. This is an attempt to deny sovereign nations the right to make their own choices," Stoltenberg said during a joint press conference with the Polish president.
The NATO chief added that the alliance respects the decision of every nation concerning the accession, and stressed that the world should not return to the time of "spheres of influence."
Russia has repeatedly warned that NATO's eastward expansion, as well as the emergence of the alliance's military infrastructure in the immediate vicinity of its borders imperils its national security.
In December, Moscow published its proposals for the United States and NATO on security guarantees. The proposals, if agreed to, would prohibit the US and Russia from deploying intermediate and shorter-range missiles within striking distance of each other's territory, among other terms. Also, Moscow specifically requested guarantees that NATO would not expand eastward to include Ukraine and Georgia. The US insists it will not allow anyone to slam NATO's open door policy shut.