The US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has warned Russia of an attack on Ukraine and has reaffirmed its promise of security to the Baltic states.
"Any new aggression would have serious consequences," said Blinken on Tuesday before the start of the NATO foreign ministers' meeting in Riga.
He was referring to "unusual Russian troop movements" on the border with Ukraine.
Foreign Minister Heiko Maas made a similar statement.
Political correspondent for the European Union, NATO and the Benelux countries based in Brussels.
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Blinken also spoke for the first time about a possible coup attempt in Kiev, about which the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyi had recently warned.
In general, he said that one was familiar with the Russian “script” and knew the tactic of “creating a provocation and using it as a pretext for interference”.
Regarding the states on the north-eastern flank, which are also concerned about their security, Blinken said: "Our commitment to Baltic security and Article 5 is rock solid." Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty regulates the duty of assistance of NATO members. Blinken aroused the expectation that the military support of the countries could be increased. Over the next two days, one will discuss with the partners whether "there are further steps that we as an alliance should take to strengthen our security," said the US Secretary of State. He pointed out several times that he could say more about it at the end of the meeting, on Wednesday afternoon. When asked how reliable American security promises are, Blinken replied: "Don't judge us by what we say, but rather,what we do."
Maas: Russia’s activities are a major concern
In the past few days, the heads of state and government of the states concerned had repeatedly urged NATO to step up military engagement in their region.
"We need additional international support," said the Latvian Defense Minister Artis Pabriks on Monday the Reuters news agency.
"We would like the United States to have a permanent presence in our country." Pabriks said that this primarily meant the deployment of the Patriot air defense system.
Last week, the Polish President Andrzej Duda had already advocated increased "strategic surveillance" in the region. Specifically, he named the desire for increased air policing, which the allies have been doing in the Baltic States since 2014, and “strengthening the operational readiness of NATO units on the eastern flank”. The alliance is represented in Poland and in the three Baltic states with so-called battlegroups, which rotate regularly and each have around 1200 soldiers.
Before his arrival in Riga, Federal Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said, “Russia’s military activities on the border with Ukraine give us cause for great concern.
Together they will send the "unmistakable message" to the Russian government: "NATO's support for Ukraine is unbroken, its independence, territorial integrity and sovereignty is not up for grabs."
Maas added: "Russia would have to pay a high price for any form of aggression."Keywords: