NATO's response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine

  • Last updated: 23 Sep. 2022 15:05

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 the Russia-Ukraine conflict, 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 30 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 anti-air systems, howitzers and drones. To date, NATO Allies have provided billions of euros’ worth of military equipment to Ukraine. 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, fuel, medical supplies, body armour, 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: NATO Allies agree to further strengthen and sustain support for Ukraine
    Learn more: Madrid Summit Declaration, 29 June 2022
    Learn more: NATO Secretary General press conference at the Madrid Summit

  • 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
    Learn more: NATO support for Ukraine is for the long term

  • 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. The Alliance also condemns Russia’s decision in February 2022 to extend recognition to the self-proclaimed “Donetsk People’s Republic” and “Luhansk People’s Republic” in eastern Ukraine, which is a flagrant breach of international law that further undermines Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. 

    NATO condemns in the strongest possible terms the so-called “referenda” on joining the Russian Federation in the Ukrainian regions partly controlled by the Russian military. These sham referenda have no legitimacy and represent a blatant violation of the United Nations Charter. NATO Allies will not recognise illegal and illegitimate annexation. These lands are Ukraine.

    Learn more: Statement by the North Atlantic Council on the so-called “referenda” in parts of Ukraine

  • 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 defend its countries and citizens from potential Russian attacks?

    In response to 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 to counter Russia’s malign influence. This includes enhancing cyber capabilities and defences, and providing support to each other in the event of cyber attacks. 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.

    Russia is the most significant and direct threat to Allies’ security and to peace and stability in the Euro-Atlantic area. However, NATO remains willing to keep open channels of communication with Moscow to manage and mitigate risks, prevent escalation and increase transparency. NATO does not seek confrontation and poses no threat to Russia. The Alliance will continue to respond to Russian threats and hostile actions in a united and responsible way.

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

  • 10. What is NATO’s response to Russia’s dangerous rhetoric around nuclear, chemical and biological weapons?

    Russia’s threatening nuclear rhetoric in its war on Ukraine is dangerous and irresponsible. The Kremlin sees nuclear threats as an all-purpose response to setbacks. NATO is not a threat to Russia and does not seek confrontation with Russia. The Alliance’s actions are defensive and a response to Russia’s aggression. So there is no reason for Russia to increase the readiness of its nuclear forces. Any use of nuclear weapons by Russia would fundamentally change the nature of the conflict, and it would have unprecedented consequences for Russia. Russia must understand that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.

    The Russian foreign ministry’s claims about a Ukrainian biological weapons programme are baseless and absurd. Russia is once again inventing false pretexts in an attempt to justify its invasion of Ukraine. NATO will continue to call out Russia’s disinformation and lies for the world to see. Any use by Russia of a chemical or biological weapon would be a violation of international law and a war crime, and result in severe consequences. 

    Learn more: Weapons of mass destruction
    Learn more: Combined Joint Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Defence Task Force