NATO Foreign Ministers meet amidst escalating Russian aggression in Ukraine
NATO Foreign Ministers held an extraordinary meeting in Brussels today (4 March 2022) to address the escalating crisis in Ukraine. They were joined by the Foreign Ministers of Finland and Sweden and the European Union High Representative. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba addressed his counterparts in a video message, in which he described the deteriorating humanitarian situation in his country.
Ministers condemned Russia’s brutal and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine and expressed solidarity and support for the courage of the Ukrainian people and armed forces. They addressed NATO’s immediate response to the crisis. In addition to the thousands more troops that Allies have already sent to the eastern part of the Alliance, NATO is deploying its Response Force for the first time, it has over 130 jets at high alert and over 200 ships from the High North to the Mediterranean. “We will continue to do what it takes to protect and defend every inch of NATO territory”, said Secretary General Stoltenberg. Foreign Ministers also discussed the need to support partners who may be at risk of the war in Ukraine spilling-over, including Georgia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. “We are not part of this conflict”, said Mr. Stoltenberg, adding, however, that NATO has “a responsibility to ensure it does not escalate and spread beyond Ukraine. That would be even more devastating and dangerous.”
The meeting was an opportunity for ministers to also address the longer-term implications of Russia’s aggression for Euro-Atlantic security. The Secretary General reiterated that “Russia’s aggression has created a new normal for our security, where fundamental principles are contested through the use of force”. In this new normal, ministers agreed that NATO’s relationship with Russia has fundamentally changed for the long term, but they remain committed to keeping diplomatic channels open to avoid any unintended escalation, misunderstanding or miscalculation.
In the afternoon of 4 March 2022, Mr. Jens Stoltenberg participated in the extraordinary meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council of the European Union. This meeting was an opportunity for the Secretary General to hold an informal exchange with EU Foreign Affairs Ministers on the conflict in Ukraine and brief them on the discussions that the NATO ministers had earlier that same day. NATO and the EU are united in strongly condemning Russian aggression against Ukraine.