Nato Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says Russian president Vladimir Putin is “preparing for more war” and that he wants a Europe in which Russia “can dictate what neighbours do.”
Mr Stoltenberg made the remarks on Friday in the Estonian capital where he was joined by EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen to commemorate the Baltic country’s independence day.
Ms Von der Leyen said Mr Putin has failed to achieve any of his strategic goals and that Russia is becoming increasingly isolated, citing Thursday’s UN General Assembly vote approving a nonbinding resolution that calls for Russia to end hostilities in Ukraine and withdraw its forces.
Mr Stoltenberg also said that he has invited Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy to attend a Nato summit in Lithuania in July, expressing hope that the Ukrainian leader can attend in person.
Nato will hold a summit in Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, from July 11th-13th.
Mr Stoltenberg’s comments came as Mr Zelenskiy thanked Germany for its support in the first year of Russia’s invasion and said his country can “end Russian aggression this year”.
Mr Zelenskiy spoke in a video message to a memorial event in Berlin Friday led by German president Frank-Walter Steinmeier and attended by Germany’s top politicians and the Ukrainian ambassador.
Mr Zelenskiy, who spoke through an interpreter, said that “now is the time when, with our courage and our weapons, we can restore peace and create a historically important safeguard against every aggression”.
Mr Steinmeier led a minute of silence for the victims of the war. He said that “Germany is not at war, but this war concerns us … Russia’s war of aggression has wrecked the European security order”.
He pledged that Kyiv can rely on Germany.
The German parliament on Friday replaced one of the German flags on top of its Reichstag building – which usually has three German flags and one European Union flag – with a Ukrainian flag. A Ukrainian flag was also raised outside the chancellery.
In Poland, Defence Minister Mariusz Blaszczak said that “preventive barriers” are being put up along the country’s borders with Russia and Belarus.
Mr Blaszczak posted on Twitter on Friday that the barriers were elements of a “strategy of defence and deterrence”.