Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters on Thursday that it is important to respond to the nerve-agent attack, blamed on Russia, “in a measured way.”
Stoltenberg said the “serious attack” involving the use of a weapons-grade nerve agent in Salisbury in southwest England “is unacceptable. It has no place in a civilized world,” telling reporters that the attack seems to be part of a “reckless pattern of Russian behavior over many years.”
Stoltenberg says he supports the U.K. government’s findings that Russia was behind the poisoning, which NATO says marked the first offensive use of a nerve agent on the territory of the alliance since its founding:
“The substance used is one of the most toxic ever developed. This is the first offensive use of a nerve agent on alliance territory since NATO’s foundation. All of us agree that the attack was a clear breach of international norms and agreements. This is unacceptable. It has no place in a civilised world.”
And the NATO boss was quick to point out just how terrible Russia is…
“The attack in Salisbury has taken place against the backdrop of a reckless pattern of Russian behavior over many years.
The illegal annexation of Crimea and military support to separatists in eastern Ukraine.
The military presence in Moldova and Georgia against these countries’ will.
Meddling in Montenegro and elsewhere in the western Balkans.
Attempts to subvert democratic elections and institutions. And the military build-up from the north of Europe to the Middle East.
Russia has been modernizing its armed forces over the last decade.”
NATO’s chief says Britain has not requested any explicit help in the wake of the poisoning of a former Russian spy and he sees no need to activate the alliance’s collective defence clause.
“Well, there’s been no request for Article 5 and it’s for nations to ask for that. NATO is ready to provide support and we’ve expressed our political support to UK, allies are also there to provide support in the conduct of the investigation and to call on Russia to answer the questions which have been posed by the United Kingdom, but I think it’s important to react in a proportionate, measured and defensive way and there has been no call for Article 5.”
NATO’s Article 5 is an all-for-one, one-for-all, clause which rallies all nations in the 29-member alliance to the aid of an ally under attack. It has only ever been used once, by the U.S. after the September 11, 2001, attacks.
But, with a straight face, Stoltenberg said that the 29-nation NATO is keen to avoid another Cold War with Russia:
“NATO will not mirror Russia tank for tank, missile for missile or drone for drone. We do not want a new cold war. And we don’t want to be dragged into a new arms race. An arms race has no winners. It is expensive, it is risky, it is in nobody’s interest.”
On a final note, it seems the Organization has adopted a social media friendly hashtag to enable the world to concentrate its commitment to keeping everyone safe… #WeAreNATO – brilliant