NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg acknowledged last week that Russian President Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine last year to prevent NATO from expanding into the country.
“The background was that President Putin declared in the autumn of 2021, and actually sent a draft treaty that they wanted NATO to sign, to promise no more NATO enlargement,” Stoltenberg told EU Parliament officials, referring to a series of security proposals Russia sent to the US and NATO in December 2021.
“That was what he sent us,” Stoltenberg continued. “And was a precondition for not invade Ukraine. Of course we didn’t sign that.” Chief among Russia’s demands was a guarantee that Ukraine would never join NATO, an issue the Biden administration refused to address.
Stoltenberg made the comments when discussing Finland’s recent admittance into NATO and Sweden’s expected membership. The NATO chief said the “opposite” of what Putin wanted happened after the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
“So he went to war to prevent NATO, more NATO, close to his borders. He has got the exact opposite. He has got more NATO presence in eastern part of the alliance and he has also seen that Finland has already joined the alliance and Sweden will soon be a full member,” Stoltenberg said.
The NATO chief’s comments contradict the claim made constantly by the US government and many media outlets that the Russian invasion of Ukraine was “unprovoked.”
Stoltenberg mentioned other proposals put forward by Russia before the invasion. “He wanted us to remove our military infrastructure in all Allies that have joined NATO since 1997, meaning half of NATO, all the Central and Eastern Europe, we should remove NATO from that part of our alliance, introducing some kind of B, or second class membership. We rejected that,” he said.