NATO Says Russia Has No Right to Control Neighbors

In his closing press conference after the meetings of NATO Foreign Ministers in Riga on December 1, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said “Ministers made clear that we stand by our decisions, our support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity [of Georgia and Ukraine] remains unwavering.”

The Secretary General stated NATO remains committed “to enhance our support to both countries. We are already strengthening their capabilities to defend themselves, training and exercising together, providing maritime support and sharing information.”

“Georgia and Ukraine are long-standing and close NATO partners contributing to our missions and operations and aspiring for membership,” Secretary general Stoltenberg noted.

Speaking of “Russia’s continued aggressive and destabilizing actions against its neighbors and its military build-up in and around Ukraine,” the NATO Secretary General said “we need to remain vigilant and avoid escalation. Ministers made clear any future Russian aggression would come at a high price and have serious political and economic consequences for Russia.”

Secretary General also stressed the importance of Georgia and Ukraine “moving ahead with reforms to strengthen the rule of law and democracy, to fight corruption and continue to transform the security and defense sectors.”

“These reforms are key to make both Georgia and Ukraine stronger and more resilient,” he underlined.

Sphere of Influences ‘Not Acceptable’

Responding to reporter’s query, NATO Secretary General said “Russia has no right to establish a sphere of influence, trying to control their neighbours.”

“They [Russians] try to re-establish some kind of acceptance that Russia has the right to control what neighbours do, or not do,” Mr. Stoltenberg continued, adding: “And that’s the kind of world we don’t want to return to, where big powers had a say, or a kind of right, to put limitations of what sovereign, independent nations can do.”

“Ukraine is an independent, sovereign nation with internationally recognized borders, guaranteed by Russia and all the other powers,” the NATO Secretary General went on, noting that “this idea that NATO’s support to a sovereign nation is the provocation, is just wrong. It’s to respect the sovereignty of, the will of, the Ukrainian people.”

“The message is that it is only Ukraine and 30 NATO Allies that decide when Ukraine is ready to join NATO. Russia has no veto. Russia has no say,” concluded Secretary General Stoltenberg.

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