Support The Moscow Times!

Stoltenberg: Russia Doesn't Pose Immediate Threat to NATO States

OSLO — Russia poses no immediate threat to NATO countries and the military alliance still hopes bilateral relations will improve, its Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Thursday.

Russia had been willing to use force to change borders in Europe, he said during a visit to his native Norway, pointing to Crimea, east Ukraine and Georgia as examples.

"What we see is more unpredictability, more insecurity, more unrest … [But] I believe we don't see any immediate threat against any NATO country from the east," he told NRK public radio.

NATO has repeatedly criticized Moscow's involvement in the Ukraine conflict and demanded it fully endorse a cease-fire agreement there. Russia denies providing troops or arms to support separatists rebels in eastern Ukraine.

The Ukraine conflict has in particular unnerved Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, the only parts of the former Soviet Union that have joined NATO.

The Baltic states are small and isolated from the rest of the European Union, and have Russian-speaking minorities which President Vladimir Putin said last year gives Moscow the right to intervene with military force.

Stoltenberg, a former Norwegian prime minister, said he hoped relations between the alliance and Russia could improve.

"Our goal is still cooperation with Russia … That serves NATO and it serves Russia," he said.

Read more

Independent journalism isn’t dead. You can help keep it alive.

As the only remaining independent, English-language news source reporting from Russia, The Moscow Times plays a critical role in connecting Russia to the world.

Editorial decisions are made entirely by journalists in our newsroom, who adhere to the highest ethical standards. We fearlessly cover issues that are often considered off-limits or taboo in Russia, from domestic violence and LGBT issues to the climate crisis and a secretive nuclear blast that exposed unknowing doctors to radiation.

Please consider making a one-time donation — or better still a recurring donation — to The Moscow Times to help us continue producing vital, high-quality journalism about the world's largest country.