NATO to Strengthen Presence on the Alliance's Border with Russia and Belarus
Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announced on Tuesday that NATO has bolstered its readiness and military presence along the eastern frontier of the alliance, where its member countries share borders with Russia and Belarus.
This was reported by CNN.
"Of course, we are closely monitoring the developments, and we have already increased our readiness and military presence in the eastern part of the Alliance," he said during a press conference in The Hague, alongside the leaders of seven NATO countries.
"We must not underestimate Russia, so it is even more important for us to continue providing support to Ukraine," added the Secretary General of the Alliance.
The NATO chief also said that Russian President Vladimir Putin's war against Ukraine has deepened divisions in Moscow.
"It is evident that President Vladimir Putin's unlawful war against Ukraine has deepened divisions and created new tensions in Russia," Stoltenberg said, referring to the recent quelling of the coup attempt by Wagner Group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin.
Speaking alongside Stoltenberg, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda stated that the possible deployment of Wagner Group mercenaries in Belarus could increase the risk of "instability" in the region.
"Last Saturday, we all witnessed a coup attempt by the Wagner Group in Russia. If Wagner deploys its serial killers in Belarus, all neighboring countries will face an even greater danger of instability. Under such circumstances, deterrence and forward defense are our top priorities," Nauseda said.
Polish President Andrzej Duda, who also spoke at the press conference, expressed "concern" about the presence of Wagner mercenaries in Belarus and called for a "very firm response" from NATO. "This is one of the key issues that, I hope, we will discuss at the Vilnius Summit, and in my opinion, it requires decision-making. It is difficult to say whether these decisions will be made at the upcoming Vilnius Summit, as it is a complex process, but I hope that we will discuss this issue," Duda said.
Earlier on Tuesday, Stoltenberg stated that he wants to send a clear message to Moscow and Minsk that "NATO exists to protect every ally, every inch of NATO territory." The growing alliance between Belarus and Russia has raised concerns among Western officials.
As reported by The Gaze, on the evening of June 23, the founder of the Wagner Private Military Company, Yevgeny Prigozhin, announced that the Russian army deliberately shelled the rear positions of the mercenaries, resulting in casualties among them. He made threats against Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and declared the march of his mercenaries towards Moscow.
The Wagner Group members managed to seize administrative buildings in Rostov and advance towards Voronezh, but they did not reach the capital as Prigozhin reached an agreement with the self-proclaimed "President" of Belarus and halted his march.