NATO chief to Putin ‘stop this war immediately’ calls for diplomacy

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg speaks during a press conference ahead of the Alliance Defense Ministers’ meeting at NATO Headquarters in Brussels on March 15, 2022.

Kenzo Tripuillard | AFP | Getty Images

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg on Wednesday called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to “immediately” stop the war in Ukraine, adding that Russia’s efforts to undermine the alliance had failed.

President Putin must stop this war immediately [and] “Engage in good faith diplomacy,” Stoltenberg said at an extraordinary meeting of NATO defense ministers in Brussels, Belgium.

Meanwhile, he said, the military coalition has agreed to double its support for Ukraine, providing more military supplies, financial aid and humanitarian aid.

Stoltenberg added that member states will expand their defenses across land, air, sea and space in response to the “new realities of our security,” praising new funding commitments from Germany and Denmark.

“President Putin’s goal was to undermine NATO. What he did is to strengthen NATO… He is pushing more NATO to its borders,” he said.

Asked if NATO had changed its position on Ukraine’s express order, Stoltenberg said the alliance had not moved.

“Our message to Ukraine is the same as it has been for years…it has the right to choose its own path,” Stoltenberg said during a press conference.

“It is up to them whether they decide to apply to NATO,” he continued, adding that the request would then be subject to a vote by member states. And Russia has no right to try to veto such an operation.”

The comments come hours after the president of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky addressed the US Congress via video conference, to demand more help to help his beleaguered country fight Russia’s invasion of it.

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In a speech lasting nearly 20 minutes, Zelensky again called on the United States to implement a no-fly zone over Ukraine in an effort to stop Russian attacks that have killed thousands of people.

“Is that too much to demand, to create a no-fly zone over Ukraine to save people?” He said from the Ukrainian capital Kyiv. “Am I asking for too much?”

Western allies have so far opposed Ukraine’s calls for a no-fly zone, arguing that it would bring NATO into direct conflict with Russia – a move member states say would mark the official start of World War Three.

Recognizing this, Zelensky offered an alternative: providing additional weapons and humanitarian support along with tougher sanctions on Putin and his inner circle.

Talks between Russia and Ukraine

US President Joe Biden is expected to announce hundreds of millions of dollars in additional aid to Ukraine later on Wednesday and is scheduled to arrive in Brussels next week for a meeting of NATO leaders.

Ukraine has been engaged in ongoing negotiations with Russia to end the conflict, which is now in its twenty-first day.

Earlier Wednesday, Moscow hinted that its goals would include Ukraine becoming a neutral country comparable to Sweden or Austria. Under the proposals, Ukraine would be allowed its limited military but would be prevented from achieving its ultimate goal of joining NATO.

“The Russian Federation believes that the Swedish version of a neutral state in Ukraine can be seen as a compromise,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, Putin accused Kyiv of not being serious about seeking a compromise.

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