(Update 1: Adds remarks by Blinken, Aurescu and Cavusoglu)
Bucharest, Nov 29 (EFE).- Nato secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg on Tuesday said Nato would continue to stand with Ukraine against Russia “for as long as it takes” and that the transatlantic alliance would not “back down” during opening remarks at a meeting of Nato foreign ministers in Bucharest.
“Nato allies and Nato are not a party to the conflict in Ukraine. But we are providing unprecedented support to Ukraine, because Ukraine is a nation that has the right to self-defense, a right which is enshrined in the UN Charter,” the Nato chief added.
Stoltenberg said Russian president Vladimir Putin was failing in his “brutal war of aggression”.
“We see wave after wave of deliberate missile attacks on cities and civilian infrastructure. Striking homes, hospitals, and power grids,” he continued.
Stoltenberg warned that “hard times” were on the horizon, not only for Ukraine but also the rest of Europe and many other countries in the world, amid a cost of living crisis and rocketing inflation.
“We are all paying a price for Russia’s war against Ukraine. But the price we pay is in money. While the price Ukrainians pay is in blood,” he said.
Stoltenberg warned the cost of the war would be higher if Putin was allowed to win, which would set a precedent for other autocrats to use force to achieve their goals.
United States secretary of state, Antony Blinken, also attending the Bucharest summit, reaffirmed Washington’s commitment to reinforce its military presence on Nato’s eastern flank.
During a joint press conference with Romanian foreign minister Bogdan Aurescu, Blinken described the Black Sea as a “critical component” of Nato’s defense strategy and added that Russia had turned the region into a war zone.
Blinken told reporters that the US had already deployed some 4,000 soldiers to Romania since Russia launched its offensive in neighboring Ukraine, and renewed Washington’s pledge not to abandon its allies in the region.
The US official praised Bucharest’s hike in military spending from 2% of GDP to 2.5% saying Romania was setting an example to other countries in the region.
Aurescu, whose government is working on several energy projects to connect Romania with Azerbaijan and Georgia, stressed the importance of consolidating the Black Sea as a transition point between Europe and the Caucasus and Central Asia.
Turkey’s foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, meanwhile called for more solutions to end the war in Ukraine.
“Just issuing condemnations won’t resolve the matter. That’s why we have to act for peace and be creative,” Cavusoglu said.
Cavusoglu added that Turkey had sought to contain the conflict and limit its effects with several initiatives, among which he cited Ankara’s role in the signing and implementing an extension of a deal to ensure the safe passage of grain exports through the Black Sea, as well as brokering periodic prisoner exchanges between Kyiv and Moscow.
“We strongly support Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, including Crimea, and continue our assistance to Ukraine,” the Turkish minister said.
On Wednesday, foreign ministers were to address other issues including “dependencies on other authoritarian” regimes, like China, Stoltenberg explained.
“We will continue to trade and engage economically with China. But we have to be aware of our dependencies, reduce our vulnerabilities and manage the risks,” he said.EFE