North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has sharply condemned the use of nerve gas in the United Kingdom against former GRU employee Sergei Skripal and his daughter, reports Voice of America.
Speaking at the launch of NATO’s Annual Report for 2017, Stoltenberg called the poisoning of Skripal "the first offensive use of a nerve agent on Alliance territory since NATO’s foundation."
He described the attack as part of "a reckless pattern of Russian behavior over many years." Such behavior, according to Stoltenberg, includes the illegal annexation of the Crimea, military support for separatists in Eastern Ukraine, and Russian military presence in Moldova and Georgia against the will of these countries. "All Allies agree that the attack was a clear breach of international norms and agreements," Stoltenberg said, saying that the Alliance "call[s] on Russia to answer the questions which have been posed by the United Kingdom."
He also mentioned Russia's "meddling in Montenegro and elsewhere in the Western Balkans."
Stoltenberg pointed out that the "blurring of the border" between nuclear and conventional war "lowers the threshold for Russia’s use of nuclear weapons."
He noted that the Alliance will continue to seek a "meaningful dialogue" with Russia, which is "difficult," but "vital to increase transparency and reduce risks."
Speaking about the future actions of NATO in response to Russia's growing armament, he noted that "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 do not 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. But let there be no doubt. NATO will defend all Allies against any threat," he stressed.
Earlier, the leaders of the United States, France, Germany and Britain demanded explanations from Russia regarding Skripal’s poisoning.