BRUSSELS, Belgium – The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg welcomed Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy to NATO headquarters on Thursday, December 16, 2021 to discuss Russia’s military build-up in and around Ukraine.
The secretary-general underlined that this build-up has no justification and undermines security in Europe. “We call on Russia to return to diplomacy, to de-escalate and to respect Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” he said.
The secretary-general stressed that any further aggression against Ukraine will have severe consequences and would carry a high price.
- Read the transcript here.
Meanwhile, NATO issued a statement on the situation in and around Ukraine:
“We are gravely concerned by the substantial, unprovoked, and unjustified Russian military build-up on the borders of Ukraine in recent months, and reject the false Russian claims of Ukrainian and NATO provocations. We call on Russia to immediately de-escalate, pursue diplomatic channels, and abide by its international commitments on transparency of military activities.
We are seriously assessing the implications for Alliance security of the current situation. We will always respond in a determined way to any deterioration of our security environment, including through strengthening our collective defence posture as necessary. NATO will take all necessary measures to ensure the security and defence of all NATO Allies. Any further aggression against Ukraine would have massive consequences and would carry a high price. NATO will continue to closely coordinate with relevant stakeholders and other international organisations including the EU.
We reiterate our support for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine within its internationally recognised borders, and call on Russia to withdraw its forces from Ukraine in accordance with its international obligations and commitments. We support the right of all countries to decide their own future and foreign policy free from outside interference. NATO’s relationship with Ukraine is a matter only for Ukraine and the 30 NATO Allies. We firmly reject any attempts to divide Allied security.
We are ready for meaningful dialogue with Russia. We reiterate our long-standing invitation to Russia for a meeting of the NATO-Russia Council in the near future. We are aware of Russia’s recent European security proposals. We are clear that any dialogue with Russia would have to proceed on the basis of reciprocity, address NATO’s concerns about Russia’s actions, be based on the core principles and foundational documents of European security, and take place in consultation with NATO’s European Partners. Should Russia take concrete steps to reduce tensions, we are prepared to work on strengthening confidence-building measures. The OSCE is also a relevant platform.
“NATO is a defensive Alliance and will continue to strive for peace, security, and stability in the whole of the Euro-Atlantic area. We stand united to defend and protect all Allies.”