NATO's response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine

  • Last updated: 04 Apr. 2023 17:52

NATO condemns in the strongest possible terms Russia's brutal and unprovoked war of aggression against Ukraine - which is an independent, peaceful and democratic country, and a close NATO partner. NATO and Allies continue to provide Ukraine with unprecedented levels of support, helping to uphold its fundamental right to self-defence.

This page contains information about NATO and its relationship with Ukraine, and the latest news on NATO and Allies’ responses to the ongoing war.

Relations with Ukraine

Relations with Ukraine

A strong, independent Ukraine is vital for the stability of the Euro-Atlantic area. Relations between NATO and Ukraine date back to the early 1990s and have since developed into one of the most substantial of NATO’s partnerships. Since 2014, in the wake of Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea, cooperation has been intensified in critical areas. Since Russia’s full-scale invasion in 2022, NATO and Allies have provided unprecedented levels of support.

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Frequently Asked Questions

  • 2. Why does NATO exist?

    NATO exists to defend its member countries and their one billion citizens. It does this by bringing together the governments and the armed forces of the 31 Allies, and by providing a security guarantee that an attack on one of them is an attack on all of them.

    Learn more: NATO’s purpose
    Learn more: Collective defence and Article 5

  • 3. Is Ukraine a NATO member?

    Ukraine is not a NATO member. Ukraine is a NATO partner country, which means that it cooperates closely with NATO but it is not covered by the security guarantee in the Alliance’s founding treaty.
    Learn more: Member countries
    Learn more: Partnerships

  • 4. What are NATO and Allies doing to help Ukraine?

    NATO is helping to coordinate Ukraine’s requests for assistance and is supporting Allies in the delivery of humanitarian and non-lethal aid. More broadly, NATO’s Article 5 security guarantee and its ironclad promise of collective defence provides Allies with the confidence that they can send weapons to Ukraine without diminishing their own security. Furthermore, the Alliance’s well-established structure of common standards and interoperable systems is allowing Allies to provide equipment with the assurance that materiel transferred to Ukraine can be backfilled by compatible equipment from other Allies.

    Individual NATO member countries are sending weapons, ammunition and many types of light and heavy military equipment, including anti-tank and air defence systems, howitzers, drones and tanks. To date, NATO Allies have provided billions of euros’ worth of military equipment to Ukraine. Allied forces are also training Ukrainian troops to use this equipment. All of this is making a difference on the battlefield every day, helping Ukraine to uphold its right of self-defence, which is enshrined in the United Nations Charter.

    Furthermore, Allies are providing billions of euros of financial assistance to Ukraine. Many Allies are also providing humanitarian aid to civilians and hosting millions of Ukrainian refugees. Allies are working with relevant stakeholders in the international community to hold accountable all those responsible for war crimes, including conflict-related sexual violence. Allies have also worked closely to support international efforts to enable exports of Ukrainian grain and to alleviate the global food crisis.

    At the Madrid Summit in June 2022, Allied leaders agreed a strengthened package of support for Ukraine, which includes support in secure communications, combat rations, fuel, medical supplies, body armour, winter clothing, equipment to counter mines and chemical and biological threats, and portable anti-drone systems. Allies also agreed to help Ukraine transition from Soviet-era equipment to modern NATO equipment, boost interoperability with Allied forces, and further strengthen Ukrainian defence and security institutions. 

    In the longer term, the Alliance is committed to assisting Ukraine and supporting efforts on its path of post-war reconstruction and reforms.

    Learn more: Statement by NATO Heads of State and Government, 24 March 2022
    Learn more: Madrid Summit Declaration, 29 June 2022
    Learn more: Statement by NATO Foreign Ministers, 29 November 2022

  • 5. How has NATO supported Ukraine since Russia illegally annexed Crimea in 2014?

    Since Russia’s illegal and illegitimate annexation of Crimea in 2014, NATO has helped to reform Ukraine’s armed forces and defence institutions, including with equipment and financial support. Allies have also provided training for tens of thousands of Ukrainian troops. Ukrainian forces have also developed their capabilities by participating in NATO exercises and operations. Since 2016, NATO’s support has been organised through a Comprehensive Assistance Package (CAP), which includes a wide range of capacity-building programmes and trust funds, focused on key areas like cyber defence, logistics and countering hybrid warfare. Allied leaders agreed a strengthened CAP at the Madrid Summit in June 2022.

    Since Russia’s full-scale invasion in February 2022, NATO and Allies have been providing unprecedented levels of support to Ukraine (see FAQ #4 above).

    Learn more: Relations with Ukraine

  • 6. What is NATO’s position on Ukraine’s occupied territories?

    Since Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea and destabilisation of eastern Ukraine in 2014, NATO has adopted a firm position in full support of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognised borders. The Allies strongly condemn and will never recognise Russia’s illegal and illegitimate annexation of Crimea, and denounce its temporary occupation. 

    NATO also condemns Russia’s illegal attempt to annex four regions of Ukraine – Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia – in September 2022, which is the largest attempted annexation of European territory by force since the Second World War. The sham referenda in these regions were engineered in Moscow and imposed on Ukraine. They have no legitimacy, and NATO will not recognise them. These lands are Ukraine and will always be Ukraine. The overwhelming vote in the United Nations General Assembly condemning Russia’s attempted annexations sent a clear and strong message that Russia is isolated and that the world stands with Ukraine, in defence of the rules-based international order.

    Learn more: Statement by the North Atlantic Council on the so-called “referenda” in parts of Ukraine
    Learn more: NATO Secretary General condemns Russia’s illegal attempts to annex Ukrainian territory

  • 8. What are NATO and Allies doing to impose costs on Russia?

    NATO Allies and partners have imposed unprecedented costs on Russia, including severe sanctions that are helping starve the Kremlin’s war machine of resources. Allies continue to refine the sanctions in order to increase the pressure on Moscow. These efforts will make it harder for Russia to rebuild its tanks, manufacture missiles and finance its war.

    President Putin’s decision to attack Ukraine is a terrible strategic mistake, for which Russia will pay a heavy price, both economically and politically, for years to come.

    Learn more: Statement by NATO Heads of State and Government, 24 March 2022

  • 9. What is NATO doing to enhance the defence of its countries and citizens?

    Following Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022, Allies activated NATO’s defence plans and deployed thousands of extra troops from both sides of the Atlantic. Over 40,000 troops, along with significant air and naval assets, are now under direct NATO command in the eastern part of the Alliance, supported by hundreds of thousands more from Allies’ national deployments. NATO rapidly established four new multinational battlegroups in Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia, in addition to the existing battlegroups in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland. The eight battlegroups extend all along NATO’s eastern flank, from the Baltic Sea in the north to the Black Sea in the south.

    At the Madrid Summit in June 2022, Allies agreed a fundamental shift in NATO’s deterrence and defence. This includes strengthening forward defences, enhancing the battlegroups in the eastern part of the Alliance up to brigade level, transforming the NATO Response Force and increasing the number of high-readiness forces to well over 300,000. This will be underpinned by more pre-positioned equipment and supplies; more forward-deployed capabilities; and upgraded defence plans, with forces pre-assigned to defend specific Allies. All of this constitutes the biggest overhaul of Allied collective defence and deterrence since the Cold War.

    NATO Allies are also increasing the resilience of their societies and infrastructure. This includes enhancing cyber capabilities and defences, and providing support to each other in the event of cyber attacks. Following the sabotage of the Nord Stream pipelines, Allies have doubled their naval presence in the Baltic and North Seas, and are increasing security around other key installations and pieces of critical infrastructure. NATO members are stepping up intelligence-sharing and surveillance across all domains, to ensure the protection of critical undersea and energy infrastructure. Allies are also enhancing their preparedness for chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats, strengthening their energy security, and boosting resilience to hybrid threats, including disinformation.

    Learn more: Deterrence and defence 
    Learn more: NATO’s military presence in the east of the Alliance
    Learn more: Resilience and Article 3