RIGA, Latvia: Jens Stoltenberg, secretary-general of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, has warned that the American-led military alliance should be ready for a worst-case scenario amid rising concerns over Russian preparations for a Ukrainian invasion.
The North Atlantic alliance remains alarmed by the massive deployment of the Russian military north of the Ukrainian border and close to Belarus. Ukraine claims Russia has stationed some 90,000 troops in the region.
Volodymyr Zelensky, the president of Ukraine, said in November that the nation's secret police unearthed plans for a Russian-supported coup to force his government from power. However, Russia dismissed the claim.
"You can discuss whether the likelihood for an incursion is 20 percent or 80 percent, it doesn't matter. We need to be prepared for the worst," Stoltenber said while in Latvia, after having led discussions involving the alliance's foreign ministers, centering on the Russian threat.
"There is no certainty, no clarity about exactly what are the Russian intentions, and they may actually evolve and change," Stoltenberg remarked.
"They've done it before," Stoltenberg noted, while drawing reference to the unlawful and forceful Russian annexation of Crimea, Ukraine, seven years ago.
"Allies agree that we need to have the plans in place to be sure that we are always able to protect all allies against any potential threat," Stoltenberg stated.
U.S. intelligence has cautioned NATO members in Europe to be prepared for a likely incursion. Diplomatic circles in Europe have admitted to moves being made by Russia's military, though some nations have attached little importance to the danger of a looming Russia-ordered incursion.