NATO's response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine
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.
Frequently Asked Questions
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.
Yes. NATO Allies agreed at the 2008 Bucharest Summit that Ukraine will become a member of NATO, noting that its next step would be to submit an application to the Membership Action Plan (MAP), a NATO programme covering political, economic, defence, resource, security and legal reforms of aspirant countries. At the 2023 Vilnius Summit, Allies reaffirmed that Ukraine will become a member of NATO when Allies agree and when conditions are met. They removed the requirement for Ukraine to pursue a MAP, which will change Ukraine’s membership path from a two-step process to a one-step process.
NATO is helping Ukraine defend itself against Russia’s aggression by coordinating Ukraine’s requests for assistance and supporting Allies in the delivery of humanitarian and non-lethal aid. Through NATO, Allies have pledged EUR 500 million to meet Ukraine’s critical needs, including cold-weather clothing, body armour, fuel, transport vehicles, secure communications, combat rations, demining equipment and medical supplies.
In addition, Allies have committed to supporting Ukraine further with a multi-year assistance programme, which will help Ukraine transition from Soviet-era to NATO standards, training and doctrines; help rebuild Ukraine’s security and defence sector; and continue to cover critical needs. NATO has also upgraded political ties by establishing the NATO-Ukraine Council, a forum for crisis consultation and decision-making where all NATO members and Ukraine sit as equals.
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. 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, tanks and fighter jets. Since the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion in February 2022, Allies have committed around EUR 100 billion in military aid to Ukraine. Around half has come from the United States and the other half from European Allies and Canada.. 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.
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: Vilnius Summit Communiqué, 11 July 2023
Learn more: Madrid Summit Declaration, 29 June 2022
Learn more: Statement by NATO Heads of State and Government, 24 March 2022
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 2022 Madrid Summit, and a multi-year assistance programme at the 2023 Vilnius Summit.
Since Russia’s full-scale invasion in February 2022, NATO and Allies have been providing unprecedented levels of support to Ukraine (see FAQ #5 above).
Learn more: Relations with Ukraine
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 do not 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 does 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.
NATO’s actions are defensive, designed not to provoke conflict but to prevent conflict. The Alliance has a responsibility to ensure that this war does not escalate and spread beyond Ukraine, which would be even more devastating and dangerous. Enforcing a no-fly zone would bring NATO forces into direct conflict with Russia. This would significantly escalate the war and lead to more human suffering and destruction for all countries involved.
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.
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 tens 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 2022 Madrid Summit, Allies agreed a fundamental shift in NATO’s deterrence and defence. This included strengthening forward defences, preparing the battlegroups in the eastern part of the Alliance to be enhanced from battalions up to brigade level, transforming the NATO Response Force and increasing the number of high-readiness forces to well over 300,000. These forces 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.
At the 2023 Vilnius Summit, Allies built upon their Madrid decisions by approving new regional defence plans to counter the two main threats to the Alliance: Russia and terrorism. NATO Leaders also pledged to invest a minimum of 2% of Gross Domestic Product annually on defence, and endorsed a Defence Production Action Plan to accelerate joint procurement, boost interoperability and generate investment and production capacity. Under this Action Plan, Allies have agreed more than EUR 2 billion in framework contracts, covering critical needs like 155 mm artillery, anti-tank guided missiles and main battle tank ammunition.
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 enhanced 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
11. What is NATO’s response to Russia’s dangerous rhetoric around nuclear, chemical and biological weapons?
Russia’s threatening nuclear rhetoric is dangerous and irresponsible. NATO takes these threats seriously, but will not be intimidated. NATO remains vigilant and conveys a clear message to Russia that a nuclear war cannot be won and should never be fought. Any use of nuclear weapons by Russia would fundamentally change the nature of the war, and it would have severe consequences for Russia. 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.
The security of Ukraine is of great importance to NATO and its member states. The Alliance fully supports Ukraine’s inherent right to self-defence, and its right to choose its own security arrangements. Ukraine’s future is in NATO. 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.more >>
DEEP DIVE - RELATED TOPICS
› Read more about the Alliance, its policies, activities and structures