NATO Asks Russia to Be 'Transparent' on Military Moves, EU Unconvinced of Ukraine Invasion

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg called on Russia to be "transparent" about its military activities Monday after talking with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba in Brussels, the Associated Press reported. His comments come as the U.S. has urged the European Union to stay vigilant of Russia's movements, but the bloc's diplomats do not believe that the country will attempt to invade neighboring Ukraine anytime soon despite noticing its military growth.

In a move condemned by the West and other world leaders, Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula in Ukraine in 2014. The same year, pro-Russia separatists began seizing land in eastern Ukraine, and Russia continues to support the rebels that still control some territory there today, the AP reported.

Ukraine also alleges that Russia has kept tens of thousands of troops and military equipment near their shared border since earlier this year. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said last week that the numbers of Russian troops were close to 100,000, BBC reported.

Though Stoltenberg did not outrightly say Monday that Russia may be making preparations to invade Ukraine, he did advise Moscow to be more open about its military expansion.

"We call on Russia to be transparent about its military activities," Stoltenberg told reporters. "It is important to prevent escalations and reduce tensions."

"We see an unusual concentration of troops, and we know that Russia has been willing to use these types of military capabilities before to conduct aggressive actions against Ukraine," Stoltenberg said.

The White House has also spoken out about Russia's recent military buildup. Press Secretary Jen Psaki said during a briefing Friday that "escalatory or aggressive actions by Russia would be of great concern to the United States."

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

NATO Wary of Russia
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg called on Russia to be “transparent” about its military activities Monday. Above, Stoltenberg attends a meeting of NATO Ministers of Defense in Brussels, Belgium, on October 21, 2021. Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP via Getty Images

Asked whether he fears a possible invasion, Stoltenberg said: "What we see is a significant, large Russian military build-up. We see an unusual concentration of troops. And we know that Russia has been willing to use these types of military capabilities before to conduct aggressive actions against Ukraine."

"I think it's important also that we don't now increase tensions, but we have to be clear-eyed, we need to be realistic about the challenges we face," he said.

Ukraine's defense ministry claims that about 90,000 Russian troops are stationed not far from their border and in rebel-controlled areas in Ukraine's east. It said units of the Russian 41st army have remained in Yelnya, a town 260 kilometers (about 160 miles) north of the Ukrainian border.

Kuleba said "we have to be ready for all scenarios, for all options," and he called for help from the 30-country military organization "to strengthen the resilience of Ukraine."

Russia Concerns Mounting
Ukraine alleges that Russia has kept tens of thousands of troops and military equipment near their shared border since earlier this year. Above, Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting of the Supreme State Council of the Union State of Russia and Belarus, in Sevastopol, Crimea, on November 4, 2021. Mikhail Metzel/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images