Chuck Todd to NATO chief: ‘How long can NATO standby and watch Russia target civilians?’

(Video: NBC News)

NBC’s Chuck Todd pressured NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg to “help more” following reports of Russians targeting civilians while the alliance continues to “stand by and watch.”

Sunday on “Meet the Press,” Stoltenberg joined Todd from Brussels for a discussion on the current situation in Ukraine and repeatedly found himself on the defensive. The host was unrelenting on the moral imperative for action and questioned what level of atrocity must take place before NATO would meet the vague threshold of “more” set by Todd.

“We’ve seen an increased targeting of civilians, Mr. Secretary General, in Ukraine. How long can NATO stand by and watch Russia target civilians without finding a way to help more when it comes to the Ukrainian resistance?” Todd asked.

“NATO allies are stepping up their support to Ukraine,” Stoltenberg explained, “partly by delivering military support, human battalion support, and billions and billions of financial support to Ukraine.”

“And then, of course, we also imposed unprecedented sanctions on Russia,” the secretary-general added about the various avenues that have been taken to attempt to deescalate the conflict that has continued to worsen for nearly four weeks.

Stoltenberg’s measured response included a reminder of actions taken before the invasion as well, where “NATO allies…actually trained and supported Ukrainian armed forces for years” in special operations and command and control logistics that have proved invaluable to the sovereign nation’s defense.

These statements reiterate the position publicly held by NATO throughout the invasion that diplomacy should be the primary focus and that escalation to a full-blown war is by no means a desired outcome.

Stoltenberg addressed the upcoming summit in Brussels meant to further strengthen “NATO’s deterrence & defence,” but that didn’t stop Todd from seeking answers on what it would take to begin a counteroffensive against Russia.

After providing a diplomatic response to concerns about chemical weapons, Todd pushed again, “It does sound like what you’re saying is you don’t have an answer yet on what the use of chemical weapons would do to NATO’s stance about Ukraine.”

Stoltenberg relayed his concerns and the understanding of Russia’s possession of chemical weapons and the facilitation of their use in Syria.

“This is something we take extremely serious,” the secretary-general assured, “but at the same time we are very much aware that we need to act in a way that prevents this conflict from being a very bloody, ugly, horrific conflict in Ukraine to something that turns out to be a full-fledged war between NATO and Russia in Europe.”

He further added that the United States would be dragged into such an escalation.

Todd’s insistence on these matters echoes calls from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy who has been addressing the governing bodies of various nations, including his recent speech to Congress, where he has stated the failure to meet his express needs puts blood on the hands of those who could have acted.

Specifically, Zelenskyy said, “All the people who die from this day forward will also die because of you, because of your weakness, because of your lack of unity,” on the failure to implement a no-fly zone.

To that notion, Stoltenberg had sated, “The only way to implement a no-fly zone is to send NATO planes – fighter planes – into Ukrainian airspace, and then impose that no-fly zone by shooting down Russian planes.”


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