The secretary-general of NATO said there is a “real risk for a new armed conflict in Europe” following the conclusion of talks between Russia and NATO on the ongoing Ukraine crisis.
After four hours of talks between the alliance and Russia, Russian deputy foreign minister Alexander Grushko said that Moscow would take military steps if political measures did not provide enough to “neutralize” threats.
Grushko’s renewed threat of military measures comes mere days after a fellow diplomat, Sergei Ryabkov, assured reporters that Russia had no intention whatsoever of invading its neighbor Ukraine. Russia has amassed 100,000 troops at the border with Ukraine, prompting international fears that an invasion is possible.
After the NATO meeting, Grushko said he told the alliance that “further sliding” of the situation could result in “the most unpredictable and most severe consequences for European security.”
The stark threat has made the alliance warn that there is a true risk for an armed conflict.
NATO secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg said the meeting was a defining moment for security in Europe, but also that there were significant differences between the two sides. He said that while the differences will not be easy to tackle, it’s a positive side that everyone was able to sit down together and engage on the issues.
He warned that if Russia used military force, it would face “severe consequences.”
The U.S. has already issued similar warnings to Russia, saying that if Russia was to invade Ukraine it would face unprecedented sanctions.
The NATO-Russia meeting was the second of three diplomatic talks aimed at de-escalating the Ukraine crisis. The first occurred Monday between the US and Russia. The third and final is taking place today in Vienna with Moscow in the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, currently chaired by Poland.