February 16 Statement by NATO Defence Ministers on Ukraine

We are gravely concerned by the very large scale, unprovoked and unjustified Russian military build-up in and around Ukraine and in Belarus. We urge Russia, in the strongest possible terms, to choose the path of diplomacy, and to immediately reverse its build-up and withdraw its forces from Ukraine in accordance with its international obligations and commitments. We remain committed to our dual-track approach to Russia: strong deterrence and defense, combined with openness to dialogue.

Russia’s actions pose a serious threat to Euro-Atlantic security. As a consequence and to ensure the defense of all Allies, we are deploying additional land forces in the eastern part of the Alliance, as well as additional maritime and air assets, as announced by Allies, and have increased the readiness of our forces. Our measures are and remain preventive, proportionate and non-escalatory. We are prepared to further strengthen our defensive and deterrent posture to respond to all contingencies.

Our commitment to Article 5 of the Washington Treaty is iron-clad. We stand united to defend each other.

NATO remains committed to the foundational principles underpinning European security, including that each nation has the right to choose its own security arrangements. We reaffirm our support for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders. As stated previously, any further Russian aggression against Ukraine will have massive consequences and carry a high price. NATO will continue to closely coordinate with relevant stakeholders and other international organizations including the EU.

NATO and Allies continue to pursue diplomacy and dialogue with Russia on Euro-Atlantic security issues, including at the highest levels. We support all these efforts, and efforts in the Normandy Format to implement the Minsk agreements. We have expressed our readiness to engage in a Renewed European Security Dialogue initiated by Poland as the current OSCE Chair. We have made substantive proposals to Russia to enhance the security of all nations in the Euro-Atlantic region and await a response. We have repeatedly offered, and continue to offer, further dialogue through the NATO-Russia Council, and stand ready to engage. We strongly encourage Russia to reciprocate and to choose diplomacy and de-escalation.

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