Brussels, Mar 4 (EFE).- Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine is likely to escalate in the coming days with more death and destruction, Nato secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg warned Friday, although he ruled out deploying aircraft or troops in the country.
“This is the worst military aggression in Europe for decades, with cities under siege, schools, hospitals and residential buildings shelled, reckless actions around a nuclear power plant last night and many civilians killed or wounded,” he said following an extraordinary meeting of Nato foreign ministers in Brussels.
“The days to come are likely to be worse, with more death, more suffering and more destruction as Russian armed forces bring heavy weaponry and continue their attacks across the country.”
Responding to questions at the press conference, Stoltenberg said that while Nato understood Ukrainian requests for the Alliance to implement a no-fly zone, such a measure would involve shooting down Russian planes, which could lead to a “full-fledged” war in Europe.
“We have a responsibility to prevent this war from escalating beyond Ukraine, because that would be even more dangerous, more devastating and cause even more suffering.”
He added that non-Nato members Sweden and Finland had been included in Nato’s intelligence briefings on the situation.
The Nato chief laid the blame for the conflict solely with Russian President Vladimir Putin, adding that the Alliance had placed over 130 jets on high alert and had 200 ships from the high north to the Mediterranean were ready to “defend every inch of Nato territory.”
Speaking before the foreign minister meeting Friday, Stoltenberg said the Russian shelling of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine, Europe’s largest, demonstrated the “recklessness” of war.
Ukraine’s state inspectorate for nuclear regulation on Friday said that Russian troops had captured the Zaporizhzhia plant on the Dnieper river in southern Ukraine but that its employees remained on the premises.
The inspectorate later said three Ukrainian soldiers were killed in the attack.
Russian shelling caused a fire at a training facility at the plant that was later extinguished, Ukrainian emergency services said.
There were no signs of elevated radiation levels at the site, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency Rafael Grossi said Friday.
United States secretary of state Antony Blinken, who was in Brussels, said: “Ours is a defensive alliance, we seek no conflict. But if conflict comes to us we are ready for it and we will defend every inch of NATO territory.EFE