NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation” that Russia was “preparing for an invasion of Ukraine.”
Partial transcript as follows:
MARGARET BRENNAN: We also know that U.S. projects there could be as many as five million or more refugees created by an invasion. What will NATO do if Russia weaponizes refugees and pushes them into your member states?
STOLTENBERG: So first of all, the most important thing is to prevent a new armed attack on Ukraine, and therefore we support all efforts by NATO allies to find a political solution, and NATO’s also ready to sit down in the NATO-Russia Council with Russia. If Russia decides to use force, that may, of course, be a large number of people fleeing Ukraine. The NATO Response Force, the forces we are prepared to deploy, for instance, to Poland, to Romania, to all the neighboring countries, also have the capabilities that can help to deal with migrant and refugee crises so that we can assist. We will never be the first responder when it comes to refugee crisis, but we can help and and assist the efforts of NATO allies. And we did that already in Poland and Lithuania. When you saw Belarus trying to weaponize or use refugees and migrants as a means to to intimidate these countries earlier last year.
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BRENNAN: Vladimir Putin personally oversaw some strategic nuclear exercises yesterday. Is this an attempt to intimidate NATO?
STOLTENBERG: It is a way for them to demonstrate all the capabilities they have. This is a regular exercise, but it was planned for last fall and now it happens in the midst of this significant Russian military build up in and around Ukraine with the largest concentration of combat troops I’ve seen in Europe since the end of the Cold War. So last week, actually, Russia said that they will step back. Russia is stepping up with more troops and higher and even closer to the to the Ukrainian border. And also the fact that this exercise, they said, should end today will now continue. So all of this fits into the picture that Russia is preparing for an invasion of Ukraine.
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