© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: NATO Secretary Basic Jens Stoltenberg attends a NATO defence ministers assembly on the Alliance’s headquarters in Brussels, Belgium June 16, 2022. REUTERS/Yves Herman/File Picture
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – NATO will ramp up its assist for Kyiv in response to Russia’s “sham” referendums in occupied territories of Ukraine, the alliance’s Secretary-Basic, Jens Stoltenberg, stated on Friday.
He spoke as Moscow launched the votes on the 4 areas becoming a member of Russia, in what Kyiv and its allies say is a ruse to annex the territories and escalate the seven-month-old battle.
“Our reply, NATO’s reply, is to step up assist,” Stoltenberg advised CNN in an interview.
“One of the simplest ways to finish this battle is to strengthen the Ukrainians on the battlefield additional to allow them to, at some stage, sit down and attain an answer which is appropriate for Ukraine and that preserves Ukraine as a sovereign, impartial nation in Europe,” he added.
The votes have raised fears that Moscow might incorporate the 4 areas after which painting assaults to retake them as an assault on Russia itself.
“That is precisely what we must be ready for, that Russia will use these sham votes to additional escalate the battle in Ukraine,” Stoltenberg stated when requested about that state of affairs.
“However these votes don’t have any legitimacy and naturally they do not change something. This continues to be a battle of aggression by Russia towards Ukraine,” he added.
NATO allies have been supporting Ukraine with weapons, ammunition, different navy gear and coaching.
The four-day referendums have been swiftly organised after Ukrainian troops earlier this month recaptured giant swathes of the northeast in a counter-offensive.
With Russian President Vladimir Putin additionally asserting a navy draft this week to enlist 300,000 troops to combat in Ukraine, the Kremlin seems to be attempting to regain the higher hand within the grinding battle since its Feb. 24 invasion.
Putin maintains Russia is finishing up a “particular navy operation” to demilitarise Ukraine, rid it of harmful nationalists and defend Russia from transatlantic alliance NATO.
Moscow maintains that the referendums provide a chance for individuals within the area to precise their view.