NATO foreign ministers on Tuesday (1 April 2014) reaffirmed their commitment to enhance the Alliance’s collective defence, agreed to further support Ukraine and to suspend NATO’s practical cooperation with Russia. “NATO’s greatest responsibility is to protect and defend our territory and our people. And make no mistake, this is what we will do,” NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said.
Ministers directed Allied military authorities to develop additional measures to strengthen collective defence and deterrence against any threat of aggression against the Alliance, Mr. Fogh Rasmussen said. “We will make sure we have updated military plans, enhanced exercises and appropriate deployments,” he said. NATO has already reinforced its presence on the eastern border of the Alliance, including surveillance patrols over Poland and Romania and increased numbers of fighter aircraft allocated to the NATO air policing mission in the Baltic States.
On Ukraine, NATO foreign ministers decided to intensify efforts to support the country’s defence reforms. The Alliance will also provide advice on Ukraine’s protection of critical infrastructure. In a separate meeting with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Andrii Deshchytsia, the Allies and Ukraine condemned Russia’s illegal military intervention in Ukraine and Russia’s violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
NATO Foreign Ministers also agreed to suspend all of NATO’s practical cooperation with Russia. “Through its actions, Russia has chosen to undermine the very foundations upon which our cooperation is built,” said the Secretary General. “In light of this, there can be no business as usual.”
Allied ministers urged Russia to engage in dialogue towards a political and diplomatic solution that respects international law and Ukraine’s internationally recognized borders.
In light of the Ukraine crisis, preparations for the Alliance’s summit in Wales this September are even more important, Mr. Fogh Rasmussen said. “We remain committed to all our core missions. We will further develop our partnerships through defence capacity building and by building upon our experience in operations in order to further promote security and stability together and we will continue to invest in our readiness, so that we stay strong and prepared for any challenge.”