(Update 2: releads, adds details, edits throughout)
Brussels, Mar 24 (EFE).- Nato will continue to boost its eastern flank and its readiness against chemical and nuclear threats, secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg said Thursday as Western leaders gathered in Brussels for a trio of high-level meetings in a rare show of solidarity against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
General Tod D. Wolters, Nato’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe, has activated defense elements against chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats stemming from Russia’s invasion of its smaller neighbor, Stoltenberg told reporters after Thursday’s emergency meeting.
Earlier in the day Stoltenberg warned that a chemical attack by Russian forces in Ukraine would dramatically alter the nature of the war, but stopped short of pledging defensive action in that scenario.
“I am not going to speculate beyond the fact that Nato is always ready to defend, protect, and react to any type of attack against an allied country,” he said.
Nato has warned that Russia could use false claims that Ukraine was producing chemical weapons as a pretext to launch a biological attack.
The heads of state and government of Nato’s 30 members said in a closing statement that 40,000 troops had been brought under direct Nato control to boost defenses along the eastern flank and confirmed that four multinational battle groups would be established in Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, and Slovakia.
The Nato leaders also called on states, including China, not to support Russia’s military actions in Ukraine and to uphold the United Nations-enshrined principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity.
“We are concerned by recent public comments by PRC (People’s Republic of China) officials and call on China to cease amplifying the Kremlin’s false narratives, in particular on the war and on Nato, and to promote a peaceful resolution to the conflict,” the joint statement read.
United States president Joe Biden joined Western leaders in Brussels for Nato, European Union and G7 meetings slated to discuss the response to president Vladimir Putin’s ongoing war in Ukraine.
“We stand united in defense of democracy and with the people of Ukraine,” a statement on the president’s official Twitter page read.
The alliance on Thursday also confirmed that Stoltenberg would stay in his role for a further year due to the war in Ukraine.
The Norwegian politician had been poised to step down this year to become the next leader of his country’s central bank.EFE