The Russian parliament greenlighting the use of its armed forces abroad fits perfectly the strategy that Moscow has been using up to now, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Tuesday.
Today’s decision by the Russian Federation Council authorizing the deployment of armed forces outside the country “adds to that pattern of decisions and actions by Russia over the last two months, which has led to the most dangerous moment for our security in decades,” Stoltenberg told a news briefing after an extraordinary meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission.
Stoltenberg reiterated that “all signs indicate that Russia continues to plan for a full-scale attack on Ukraine,” citing the ongoing military buildup, provocations in the eastern separatist-dominated Donbas region, and various false flag operations.
Russia has amassed over 150,000 troops with heavy equipment in and around Ukraine, and these “forces are moving out of the camps, and are in combat formations ready to strike,” he said.
“What we see is a further invasion of a country that has already been invaded,” Stoltenberg said, condemning Russia’s recognition of the Luhansk and Donetsk breakaway regions after supporting separatists there since 2014, in the wake of invading Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula that same year.
At the same time, he stressed that “it’s never too late to not attack,” calling on Russia to engage in talks to find a political solution to the conflict.
After a speech late Monday saying Russia would recognize as independent the breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that Russia would send troops to those areas in order to “maintain peace.”
The announcements drew widespread global condemnation as violations of the UN Charter and international law, with Western countries vowing to impose harsh new sanctions.
In 2014, after invading Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula, Moscow began to support separatist forces in eastern Ukraine against the central government, a policy that it has maintained for the past seven years. The conflict has taken more than 13,000 lives, according to the UN.
Putin’s latest moves follow Russia amassing over 100,000 troops and heavy equipment in and around its neighbor, with the US and Western countries accusing it of setting the stage for an invasion.
Russia has denied it is preparing an invasion and instead claims Western countries undermined its security through NATO’s expansion towards its borders.
In 2014, Moscow began supporting separatist forces in eastern Ukraine against the central government, a policy that it has maintained since then. The conflict has taken more than 13,000 lives, according to the UN.
Copyright 2022 Anadolu Agency. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.