NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Tuesday said that it is the alliance’s responsibility to ensure the Russia-Ukraine conflict doesn’t spread beyond Ukraine. He made the statement as two million people have been forced to flee the country as Europe’s worst refugee crisis since World War II grows even more severe.
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Stoltenberg, speaking during a joint press conference in Riga with the Latvian President Egils Levits, said that the situation would be out of control if the conflict extends beyond Ukraine. He added that the ‘suffering we now see in Ukraine is horrific’.
“We have a responsibility to ensure the conflict does not escalate and spread beyond Ukraine. That would be even more dangerous, destructive, and even more deadly. The situation could spiral out of control,” Stoltenberg said.
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The United Nations human rights office said it has confirmed 474 civilian deaths in Ukraine since the Russian invasion began on February 24.
The office added Tuesday that the number of confirmed civilian injuries now stands at 861.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday assured Lithuania and Latvia of NATO protection and American support as he made quick visits to two of the three Baltic states that are increasingly on edge as Russia presses ahead with its invasion of Ukraine.
“In response to the situation and to make sure there is no room for miscalculation in Moscow NATO has “significantly strengthened” its presence in the eastern part of the alliance,” Stoltenberg added.
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He further said that the alliance has 130 jets at high alert.
“Over 200 ships from the high north to the Mediterranean, and 1000s of additional troops in the region,” the NATO chief continued.
The NATO has refused to get directly involved in the Russia-Ukraine conflict. President Joe Biden, however, had said that the US and its allies will defend every inch of the alliance’s territory.