by Harold W. Reid and H. Haverstock, The Chicago Times
November 27, 2021
WASHINGTON — NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg issued a stern warning to Russia on Friday that any attempt to invade Ukraine would be costly.
Following large scale war games in western Russia this year, Ukraine claims Moscow has kept 90,000 troops massed along the Ukraine-Russian border. According to the Ukraine Defense Ministry, units of Russia’s 41st army are stationed near Yelnya, about 160 miles north of the border.
When pressed for comment, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev denied Russian aims to invade the former Soviet satellite nation and also denied the presence of soldier in the area described by Ukraine officials.
“If Russia uses force against Ukraine that will have costs, that would have consequences . . . This is the second time this year that Russia has amassed a large and unusual concentration of forces in the region. This military buildup is unprovoked and unexplained. It raises tensions and it risks miscalculations,” Stoltenberg said.
NATO members are scheduled to meet November 30th to December 1 in Latvia. Although the NATO alliance stipulates activation when a member nation is attacked, it could send aid to Ukraine, which is not a member of NATO. The general view is a Russian invasion of Ukraine could lead to further aggression or attacks on NATO.
Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in 2014, after mass protests drove the country’s Moscow-friendly president from power.
Ukraine and NATO accused Russia of sending troops and weapons to support the insurgents. Moscow denied this, claiming that Russians who joined the separatists were doing so voluntarily. More than 14,000 people have died as a result of the fighting in Ukraine’s eastern industrial heartland known as Donbas.
NATO would be unable to provide Ukraine with significant military assistance in time to make a difference against Russian forces, so economic measures such as Western sanctions are more likely to be used to impose a financial cost on Moscow.