by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg following the meeting of the NATO-Russia Council
We’ve just had a meeting of the NATO-Russia Council. Our first meeting this year. And the ninth since 2016.
It was a successful and useful and professional meeting, at which we discussed two important topics: Ukraine and the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.
On both of these issues, Allies and Russia fundamentally disagree. But that is exactly why it is important to talk. To address concerns, increase predictability and reduce risks.
Since 2014, Ukraine has always been the first item on our agenda. We discussed the heightened tensions in and around the Sea of Azov, as well as the security situation in eastern Ukraine. Allies made clear that they do not and will not recognise the illegal annexation of Crimea. And they called on Russia to immediately release the sailors and ships seized in November.
We also addressed the INF Treaty. All members of the NATO-Russia Council agree that the Treaty has been crucial to Euro-Atlantic security. But the Treaty is now in jeopardy. And unfortunately, we have not seen any signs of a breakthrough. NATO Foreign Ministers met on this issue in December. And all Allies agreed that Russia’s SSC-8 system violates the INF Treaty. Today, Allies urged Russia again to return to full and verifiable compliance with the Treaty. They also expressed firm commitment to supporting and strengthening real and verifiable arms control.
Today’s meeting covered two of the most serious issues affecting Euro-Atlantic security. Our discussions are not always easy.
But that’s exactly why they are so important. And we remain committed to continuing our dialogue.
And with that, I’m ready to take your questions.