NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg has demanded that Russia withdraw its forces and military hardware from Ukraine.

Stoltenberg said after a meeting of NATO defence ministers with their Ukrainian counterpart in Brussels on Wednesday.

“Russia needs to stop supporting the militants and withdraw its forces and military equipment from Ukrainian territory.”

He said the alliance would continue to stand by the government in Kiev and would never recognise Russia’s “illegal and illegitimate annexation of Crimea” two years ago.

The Ukrainian territory of Crimea was annexed by the Russian Federation on the 18th of March 2014. Since then, the peninsula has been administered as the de facto Crimean Federal District, constituting two Russian federal subjects—the Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol.

The annexation followed a military intervention by Russia in Crimea, which took place in the aftermath of the 2014 Ukrainian revolution and was part of wider unrest across southern and eastern Ukraine.

The Russian Federation opposes the “annexation” label with Putin defending the referendum as complying with the principle of self-determination of peoples. In July 2015, Russian prime minister Dmitry Medvedev said that Crimea had been fully integrated into Russia.

NATO is to deploy four battalions to Poland and the Baltic states as part of a push back against Russia’s intervention in Ukraine, alliance head Jens Stoltenberg said Monday.

“We will agree to deploy by rotation four robust, multinational battalions in the Baltic states and Poland. This will send a clear signal that NATO stands ready to defend any ally.”

Russia’s annexation of the Crimea in 2014 and its support for ethnic Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine has made Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia increasingly anxious about their own security.

Asked about the possibility of an Russian attack, Lithuania’s Defence Minister Juozas Olekas told Reuters:

“We cannot exclude it. They might exercise on the borders and then switch to invasion in hours.”

NATO already operates a Baltic air-policing mission, this takes the form of air defence ‘Quick Reaction Alert’ in order to guard the airspace over the three Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

NATO stressed that the deployment, to be made on a rotational basis is not permanent so as not to infringe existing treaties with Russia, was part of a much wider response to the Ukraine crisis which includes tripling the NATO Response Force to 40,000 men ready to move at short notice, creating a Spearhead Force of about 5,000 on a just few days’ standby.

 

47 COMMENTS

  1. Not a bad idea, but if you demand something you need to have a good answer to the inevitable question .. ‘Or else what?’

    NATO exercises are good at signalling determination that members will stand by their article 5 commitment (to both Russia and nervous Eastern Europe member states) , but that does not extend to Ukraine so why demand something you do not intend to push for?

    • They should be! Putin is subjecting his country to many years of isolation. Back to Soviet times then! The West will just sit back and watch Russia become a poor state again.

  2. So, the Ukraine votes to side with Russia, not the EU. The EU funds a coup, the elected government is ousted, civil (proxy) war ensues…with Russian support on one side, and EU and US the other. Now we want the Russians to withdraw troops?. This is NOT our war.

  3. Name a Dictator who could be reasoned with,& who didn’t distract their own countries problems with expansion/conflict abroad. No!! Then a conflict of wills is on its way. The earlier the line is drawn, then the sooner the show down & consequently a reduction in the conflict/ conflagration. The Cuban missile crisis is an example. Although in those days both leaders had each lived through horror!! Let’s hope Putin has a knowledge of his own history!!

  4. I am not sure you can call Putin a dictator. He has a consistently higher approval rating than any western leader and has won at least 3 elections (which were no more rigged than the average US election). Are Trump and Clinton any better?

  5. Strange how we were recently told that leaving the EU could contribute to war in Europe, now we find that NATO probably at the behest of the EU is sending demands to Russia, so this is what all the NATO exercises in Northern Europe has been for. Showing the flag and beating the drums, our fault is it for wanting “our freedom”!

  6. I think this tells us everything we need to know about NATO and the reality of how strong it is. It took more than a year before they issued this statement, i assume because of infighting over the content etc.

    It makes you wonder what would happen if another member was really attacked by someone, would the others respond or would they dither until its too late.

  7. NATO demands Russia withdraw from Ukraine- that was the headline story.
    So I said the next few weeks will be interesting – as in Russia’s reply which I would find interesting, I would have thought my comment would have been self explanatory and would not require any further explanation taking into consideration the headline story but in your case obviously not.

  8. Putin is drug addict, strong abuser of cocain, he will push the button, i know russians pritty well, if they
    crazy then crazy they are!

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