A senior official in Russia’s government warned that military support given to Ukraine from countries that are part of NATO threatened to bring about conflict with the US and its allies in Europe after the invasion of Ukraine.
On Monday, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance would shore up its own munitions and weaponry in light of the war in Ukraine, adding air defense missiles and anti-tank weapons to its defense.
“Risks, undoubtedly, arise” amid Russia-Ukraine conflict
In an appearance on the Rossiya-24 TV channel on Wednesday, Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko outlined his views on whether a direct conflict threat with NATO is possible.
“Risks, undoubtedly, arise. And, of course, we are extremely concerned about an arms supply program (to Ukraine),” Grushko said. “Everything in this situation is very dangerous.”
On Tuesday, Stoltenberg said the alliance would not involve itself in the conflict, stating that it has no plans to deploy military forces in Ukraine or to move planes into its airspace, but member nations are sending weapons to Ukraine.
If Russia hears “NATO say that they have no plans or intentions, or at least some kind of display of rationality, this shows that there is still at least some common sense left in their actions,” Grushko said.
“No guarantees” there will be no conflict with NATO, Russia
Russia has long criticized NATO expansion towards its borders and has sought to obtain security guarantees, framing the alliance as a threat. In new messaging, it says it is open to changing course on NATO-Russia relations in the interest of avoiding major confrontations, according to a report in teleSUR.
Grushko suggested Russia had warned the West that Ukraine’s desire to join NATO was considered a threat to them and a so-called trick. The diplomat pointed out that Russia has supposedly been in favor of resolving conflicts through dialogues, saying political and diplomatic solutions are necessary now, not military solutions. However, he added that Russia will take action when it deems fit, if this situation is not resolved.
“There are no guarantees that incidents will not occur,” Grushko said. There are no guarantees, he added, that they “may not also escalate in an absolutely unnecessary direction.”
Relations between NATO and Russia could change, if concerns over Russia’s security guarantees are addressed, he intimated. Grushko also stressed that Russia will continue to insist on providing it with legal guarantees of NATO’s non-expansion to the east.
These remarks come as Russia’s armed forces continue to wage an offensive against Ukraine after Russia’s President Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion last Thursday.