This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says Russia must not be permitted to win in the war it launched against Ukraine, which has given rise to the most dangerous moment for Europe since World War II.
Speaking in Norway on August 4, Stoltenberg said the alliance and its member countries may have to continue to support Ukraine with arms and other assistance for a long time in order to keep Russia from succeeding after it launched its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine on February 24.
“It’s in our interest that this type of aggressive policy does not succeed,” Stoltenberg said.
“This is the most dangerous situation in Europe since World War II,” he said, adding, “what happens in Ukraine is terrible but it would be much worse if there was a war between Russia and NATO.”
Stoltenberg then reaffirmed the alliance’s resolve to defend all its 30 member countries.
“If (Russian) President (Vladimir) Putin even thinks of doing something similar to a NATO country as he has done to Georgia, Moldova or Ukraine, then all of NATO will be involved immediately,” Stoltenberg said.
The war has led previously nonaligned Finland and Sweden to seek NATO membership, with the request so far ratified by 23 of the 30 member states, including the United States.
“This is not just an attack on Ukraine, an independent democratic nation with more than 40 million people, it’s also an attack on our values and the world order we want,” the NATO chief said of the war.
Following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, the two traditionally neutral Nordic countries, Finland, which shares a border of more than 1,000 kilometers with Russia, and Sweden applied to join NATO as soon as possible.
Under the fast-track admission process, the U.S. Senate voted 95-1 in favor of the two countries’ membership on August 3, making the United States the 23rd of the 30 NATO countries to formally endorse the move so far, after Italy approved it earlier this week.
According to a NATO list, seven member countries have yet to formally agree: the Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, and Turkey.
Only Turkey has raised a challenge, demanding the intensification of work on extraditing dozens of government opponents it labels “terrorists” from both countries in exchange for its support.
Turkey has said that a special committee would meet Finnish and Swedish officials this month to assess whether the two nations are complying with its conditions.