BRUSSELS 

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg rejected on Monday the claims made by Russia and China on stopping the enlargement process. 

Speaking at a joint press conference with Polish President Andrzej Duda, Stoltenberg called the joint statement of Russia and China “an attempt to deny sovereign nations the right to make their own choices.” 

Stoltenberg’s remarks came after China joined Russia for the first time in opposing “further enlargement of NATO” and urged the military alliance in a joint statement issued on Friday to “abandon its ideologized Cold War approached.”

He stressed that every country has the right to be “to be part of an alliance or not our” under international law, and pointed out that NATO’s “open-door policy has been a historic success, spreading freedom and security across Europe.” 

The NATO chief explained that they discussed Russia’s massive military buildup in and around Ukraine with the Polish president during their meeting.

Stoltenberg said that NATO expects 30,000 Russian troops to be deployed in Belarus in addition to the 100,000 troops that had amassed in and around Ukraine with enabling capabilities, such as medical units, air control, and logistics. 

He added that Russia rescheduled its annual exercise of nuclear forces, warning that “NATO must remain vigilant and ready” since Russia has already used “military exercises before as a cover for aggressive actions.” 

He thanked the US and other NATO allies for reinforcing their presence in the eastern flank and said the military alliance considers deploying additional troops in the southeastern part of its territory.

At the same time, he stressed that NATO is ready to conduct dialogue with Russia in good faith and the main goal is to find a political solution to the conflict.

NATO began to increase its presence in eastern Europe following Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014. 

The US announced last week to move 3,000 troops to Germany, Poland, and Romania to strengthen defense positions at NATO’s eastern flank amid the Russian threat to invade Ukraine.

Denmark, Spain, and the Netherlands decided recently to send more air and naval forces to the Baltic and the Black sea region.

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