At the first day of meetings of NATO foreign ministers in Brussels this week, topics of discussion included the alliance's cooperation with Georgia and Ukraine, as well as the political situation in the Black Sea region and transatlantic security.
NATO member states reaffirmed their support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of both Ukraine and Georgia, and continued to offer assistance in developing their partners' security capabilities, according to a ministry press release.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Sven Mikser (SDE) said that NATO allies share the same understanding that Russia has violated international law, including the core principles of European security, by illegally annexing Crimea and using military force against both Ukraine and Georgia. Such aggressive behaviour by Russia is a threat against the entire Black Sea region.
In his statement, Mikser emphasised that NATO's political response to Russia's activities in the Sea of Azov was rapid, but that it was also necessary to consider the steps ahead. It is important to understand, he continued, that by escalating the situation, Russia has followed a certain pattern.
"The Kerch Strait attack was not an isolated incident; it was part of a long-term operation to expand Russia's area of influence," he added.
On the subject of transatlantic security, the Estonian minister emphasised that NATO must keep its commitments, principles and values. "Keeping the promise to increase defence spending is one of the most important steps in maintaining a strong transatlantic bond," he added.
Mikser: Russia's behaviour has consequences
The foreign ministers of NATO also made a joint statement regarding the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty in which NATO allies agreed with the US' assessment that Russia has in recent years violated the treaty by developing weapons banned by it.
"In the interests of international security and stability, it is especially important to respect existing agreements," Mikser said. "Russia has clearly violated the treaty, and it is not sustainable when only the US respects it. Russian violations of the INF Treaty are just one example of how Russia wants to withdraw from its international commitments. We as NATO allies must continue to make it clear that violations do not erase rules, and that such behaviour has consequences."
Editor: Aili Vahtla