On the first day of a NATO foreign ministers meeting in Brussels on Tuesday, member states of the alliance reaffirmed their support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine and Georgia.
The NATO foreign ministers talked about the alliance’s cooperation with Georgia and Ukraine and the political situation in the Black Sea region, but also transatlantic security, spokespeople for the Estonian Foreign Ministry said.
According to Mikser, the NATO partners were united in the understanding that with the illegal annexation of Crimea and military activity against Ukraine and Georgia Russia has violated international law, including the fundamental principles of European security. Such aggressive behavior by Russia poses a threat to the whole Black Sea region.
NATO members expressed their support to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine and Georgia, and said the alliance is ready to continue supporting the partners in security capability building.
Mikser said in his remarks that while the political reaction of NATO to the actions of Russia in the Azov Sea has been fast, it is necessary to think about the next steps. In doing this it is important to understand that in escalating the situation Russia has been observing a certain pattern.
“The attack in the Kerch Strait was not an isolated incident, but part of a long-term activity that is aimed at expanding one’s sphere of influence,” the minister said.
Speaking of transatlantic security, Mikser emphasized that NATO must remain firm in fulfilling the commitments it has assumed, firm to its principles and values.
“Fulfilling the promise to increase defense spending is one of the most important steps in maintaining a strong transatlantic bond,” he said.
The ministers adopted a joint statement concerning the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty. NATO partners share the assessment of the United States that Russia has violated the treaty and has been developing weapons systems banned by the treaty in recent years.
“It is especially important in the interest of international security and stability that agreements are observed. Russia obviously has violated it, however, and unilateral fulfilment of the treaty by the United States alone can not be sustainable,” the minister said.
“Long-term violation of the INF treaty is but one example of the wish of Russia to back down on the international obligations assumed. It is a task of us as allies to continue to make clear that violation of these rules does not render these rules non-existent, but behavior like this also will have its consequences,” Mikser said.
The first day of the meeting of NATO ministers will end with a dinner of the ministers on the topic of the NATO southern neighborhood. The ministers are set to endorse a report on strengthening the stability of the southern neighborhood and an update of the NATO anti-terrorism action plan. Other topics to be discussed include NATO’s support for developing the defense and security capability of Libya, as well as the developments in Iraq.