New Delhi: NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg on Friday called the Russia’s attempted annexation of Ukraine territory via sham referenda a land grab which is ‘illegal and illegitimate’.
NATO allies do not and will not recognise any of these territories as part of Russia, Stoltenberg said in a press conference.
“The sham referendums were engineered in Moscow and imposed on Ukraine in total violation of international law.”
He called the move “the most serious escalation” since the start of the war in Ukraine, triggered by Russia’s invasion earlier this year.
We call on all States to reject Russia’s blatant attempts at territorial conquest, he said.
“These land are Ukraine, Donetsk is Ukraine, Luhansk is Ukraine, Kherson is Ukraine, Zaporizhzhia is Ukraine, just like Crimea is Ukraine,” NATO Chief said.
“NATO is not party to the conflict but we provide support to Ukraine,” he emphasized.
Ukraine on Friday formally requested a “accelerated accession” to NATO in retaliation to Moscow’s annexation of four areas of Ukraine.
In regards to Ukraine’s application to join NATO alliance, Stoltenberg said that decision on membership has to be taken by all 30 allies. We take these decisions by consensus.
“Our focus now is on providing immediate support to Ukraine, to help it defend itself against Russian brutal invasion,” NATO Chief said, adding that it is the main focus of NATO allies now.
He also said that NATO allies would increase military presence to give the message that the alliance will respond to attacks on critical infrastructure.
Ahead of the press conference, Stoltenberg also spoke with US national security advisor Jake Sullivan and discussed concerns over Russia’s attempted annexation and apparent sabotage of Nord Stream pipelines.
The duo also expressed their firm commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.