BERLIN, Jan 14 (Reuters) – NATO will not allow Moscow to blackmail the alliance and will not accept a Russian veto against an enlargement, German Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht said on Friday.
“Russia does not have a veto in issues concerning the alliance and cannot blackmail us. These red lines must be clear in all pending talks,” she told parliament.
“But between these red lines and a military conflict, there is a lot of scope that we must make use of”, Lambrecht said, adding she would meet NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg in Berlin next week.
Ukraine was hit by a massive cyberattack warning its citizens to “be afraid and expect the worst”, and Russia, which has massed more than 100,000 troops on its neighbour’s frontier, released TV pictures on Friday of more forces deploying in a drill.
The developments came after no breakthrough was reached at meetings between Russia and Western states, which fear Moscow could launch a new attack on a country it invaded in 2014.
“The drumbeat of war is sounding loud,” said a senior U.S. diplomat.
Russia denies plans to attack Ukraine but says it could take unspecified military action unless demands are met, including a promise by the NATO alliance never to admit Kyiv.
Russia said troops in its far east would practice deploying to far-away military sites for exercises as part of an inspection. Defence Ministry footage released by RIA news agency showed numerous armoured vehicles and other military hardware being loaded onto trains in the Eastern Military District.
“This is likely cover for the units being moved towards Ukraine,” said Rob Lee, a military analyst and a fellow at the U.S.-based Foreign Policy Research Institute.
The movements indicated Russia has no intention of dialling down tensions over Ukraine, having used its troop build-up to force the West to the negotiating table and press sweeping demands for “security guarantees” – key elements of which have been described by the United States as non-starters.
Photo – A file photo of a NATO flag. EPA-EFE/VALDA KALNINA