The failed mutiny of the head of the Wagner mercenary group against the Russian leadership demonstrates that Moscow made a strategic mistake by starting a war against Ukraine, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Monday. The NATO Chief arrived in Lithuania to take part in military exercises.
“The events over the weekend are an internal Russian matter, and yet another demonstration of the big strategic mistake that President Putin made with his illegal annexation of Crimea and the war against Ukraine,” Stoltenberg told reporters on a visit to the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius. “As Russia keeps its onslaught going, it is even more important to continue our support for Ukraine.
Stoltenberg said NATO is monitoring the situation in Belarus and again condemned Moscow’s announcement to deploy nuclear weapons there. “We see no indication that Russia is preparing to use nuclear weapons but NATO remains vigilant, Stoltenberg said adding that NATO’s deterrence was strong enough to keep its people safe in a more dangerous world. At the same time, Stoltenberg assured Kyiv of NATO’s continued support.
“If Russians think they can intimidate us, they will fail,” Stoltenberg said. “We stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes.” Stoltenberg arrived in Lithuania to attend the exercise that will test the swift reinforcing of the German-led NATO battlegroup in the country to the size of a brigade, a military unit of up to 5,000 troops. This scenario would be implemented in case of increased tension or a conflict with Russia.
Stoltenberg described the exercise as a clear signal that NATO is ready to defend every inch of allied territory. German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius, who also flew to Vilnius this morning, said Berlin is ready to deploy a robust brigade to Lithuania on a permanent basis. A precondition (for the deployment) is that the necessary infrastructure - barracks, training grounds and warehouses - is in place, he told reporters during his visit to Lithuania.