NATO has been expanding its military presence in Eastern Europe lately in connection with the crisis around Ukraine. NATO countries are currently moving their ships and aircraft to the region, a message posted on the website of the North Atlantic Alliance says.
Meanwhile, Australian authorities have started evacuating the families of diplomats from Kiev amid rising tensions on the Russian-Ukrainian border, The Sydney Morning Herald said.
According to the publication, Canberra urged Australian citizens in Ukraine to leave the country as soon as possible for their safety. There are about 1,400 Australians staying in Ukraine, but the Australian government has not confirmed this information yet, the newspaper said.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg thanked the countries that decided to provide additional forces at the disposal of the alliance.
Earlier, The New York Times reported that US President Joe Biden was considering an opportunity to deploy troops to the Baltic countries and Eastern Europe. For the time being, it goes about small contingents from 1,000 to 5,000 troops, as well as about the redeployment of military aircraft and ships. However, the US can send up to 50,000 American troops to Eastern Europe should the strategic situation worsen.
At the same time, Ukraine continues to receive military equipment. On January 21, Estonian Ministry of Defense announced that the head of the department, Kalle Laanet, and his counterparts from Latvia and Lithuania agreed with the United States to supply additional weapons to Ukraine. Thus, Estonia will send American Javelin anti-tank missile system to Ukraine, and Latvia and Lithuania will dispatch Stinger anti-aircraft missile systems. Great Britain also sent anti-tank systems for the Ukrainian army.
The international situation continues to aggravate against the backdrop of security talks between Russia, the United States and NATO. In mid-December 2021, Moscow handed over its proposals for security guarantees to Washington and NATO. Among them, there was a clause on the non-expansion of NATO to the east. Russia wants NATO to take on the obligation not to accept Ukraine into the alliance, and requires to withdraw NATO military forces and equipment from the territory of the countries that were not members of the alliance in 1997. In particular, it goes about Bulgaria and Romania, where additional units of the alliance are to be deployed.
Russia has held a series of meetings with the US and NATO to discuss the above-mentioned proposals, but the parties have not been able to agree yet. NATO calls Russia's demands to reduce its military presence in the new countries of the alliance unacceptable.
"NATO will not renounce our ability to protect and defend each other, including with the presence of troops in the eastern part of the Alliance. Russia's demands would create first and second class NATO members, which we cannot accept. We reject any idea of spheres of influence in Europe. We will always respond to any deterioration of our security environment, including through strengthening our collective defence. NATO is vigilant and continues to assess the need to reinforce the eastern part of our Alliance," Oana Lungescu, an official spokeswoman for NATO wrote on Twitter.
In 1997, Russia and the North Atlantic Alliance signed the Founding Act on Mutual Relations, Cooperation and Security, which stated that the parties did not consider each other as adversaries. By 1997, NATO had not had Eastern European states among its members. The bloc has had several expansion waves since then:
Negative geopolitical news has continued to the weakening of the Russian currency, the ruble. London threatened over the weekend that Russia would face "very serious consequences" if Moscow tried to install a puppet regime in Ukraine, Deputy Prime Minister of Great Britain, and Minister of Justice, Dominic Raab said.
In addition, the US State Department ordered to start evacuating the families of employees of the US Embassy in Ukraine due to the continuing threat of military operations from Russia. The UK started evacuating diplomatic personnel from Ukraine as well.
The ruble has been declining against the euro and the dollar despite rising oil prices lately.
On January 24, 2022, the dollar rose above the mark of 79 rubles per one dollar for the first time in more than a year. The last time the dollar was traded at such values was in November 2020. The demand for dollars and euros in the foreign exchange market has been increasing amid growing geopolitical risks. The euro exchange rate exceeded the mark of 89 rubles per one euro for the first time since July 2021.
The reason for the collapse of the Russian stock market to minimum values in more than 12 months lies in provocative hysterical actions taken by the West, Putin's official spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, RIA Novosti reports.
The mood that currently prevails on global stock markets is pessimistic, the Kremlin spokesman said. In his opinion, changing this mood is a common goal that one should pursue.