BRUSSELS (Reuters) -- The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) will go ahead with its annual routine nuclear deterrent exercises as cancelling it now would send the wrong signal to Moscow, NATO head Jens Stoltenberg told a news conference on Tuesday.
Stoltenberg said NATO’s military strength was the best way to prevent any escalation of tensions with Russia, which has made veiled threats of using nuclear weapons against Ukraine, which it invaded on Feb 24th.
Commenting on those threats, Stoltenberg said that NATO was closely monitoring Russia’s nuclear forces and had not seen any changes in their posture.
“We have not seen any changes in Russia’s posture but we remain vigilant,” he added.
He also said any attack on infrastructure critical to the NATO military alliance would trigger a “united and determined response”.
Stoltenberg told a news conference that NATO allies were increasing security around key installations after attacks on gas pipelines running under the Baltic Sea. It is still unclear who was behind the blowing up of the pipelines.
Stoltenberg said that “Ukraine has the momentum” in the war with Russia and the Western defense alliance would stand with Kyiv as long as it takes.
European arms manufacturers have urged the European Union to help coordinate weapons procurement as they scramble to boost production to meet soaring demand for the war in Ukraine.
Meeting ahead of the NATO defense ministers gathering in Brussels, defense company executives said their industry had been geared up for EU states spending less on defense rather than more, after decades of peace in Europe.
Stoltenberg said the alliance has started dialogue with industry and allies on how to boost production and replenish weapons stocks.
“We now need now to respond to a dramatic increase in demand for military equipment from member states... while we have production capacities in Europe that are designed for peace time,” said Nicolas Chamussy, chief executive of French defense firm Nexter.
He added there was a very important demand for artillery capabilities in Europe.
The EU has been buying equipment and supplies for the Ukrainian military, including lethal weaponry, which it said should be used for defensive purposes.