NATO Warns Russia Over Illegal Annexation of Crimea

Donald Trump (President, United States), NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and Angela Merkel (Federal Chancellor, Germany). Photo: NATO (file photo)
Donald Trump (President, United States), NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and Angela Merkel (Federal Chancellor, Germany). Photo: NATO (file photo)

The NATO-Russia Council, which brings together all 29 NATO Allies and Russia, met in Brussels on Friday (25 January 2019).

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, who chaired the meeting, noted that Allies and Russia discussed two important topics: Ukraine and the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) 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,” he said.

Since 2014, Stoltenberg said, 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,” he said.

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Allies made clear that they do not and will not recognize the illegal annexation of Crimea. And they called on Russia to immediately release the sailors and ships seized in November.

“All members of the NATO-Russia Council agree that the INF Treaty has been crucial to Euro-Atlantic security. But the Treaty is now in jeopardy,” Stoltenberg said.

And unfortunately, he added, 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.

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.

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Rakesh Raman