Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was “deliberate, cold-blooded and long-planned”, NATO’s secretary-general said on Thursday, accusing Russian President Vladimir Putin of “using force to re-write history.”
Speaking in Brussels, Jens Stoltenberg called for a summit of NATO alliance leaders on Friday to address Moscow’s military incursion into neighbouring Ukraine and said that the military alliance would be bolstering its land, sea and air forces on its eastern flank.
Stoltenberg confirmed NATO does not have any troops inside Ukraine and does not plan to send any, but he said the alliance is still committed to providing Kyiv with military and technical support.
Ukraine is not a member of NATO but other countries close to the theatre of conflict, including Estonia, Latvia, Poland and Lithuania, are. Under Article 4 of the NATO treaty, all are entitled to direct military support if their “territorial integrity, political independence or security” is threatened.
At a press conference, Stoltenberg accused Moscow of seeing to “re-establish its sphere of influence” and “subvert the values that we hold dear”.
"Russia's leaders bear full responsibility for their reckless actions and the lives lost," he added. “This is a brutal act of war.”
Asked whether he would be willing to meet with Russian leaders to discuss the crisis, Stoltenberg was non-committal, but he accused Moscow of failing to take talks over previous weeks seriously.
"Russia has shut the door to a diplomatic solution. We regret that," he said.
"It will be a new reality, a new Europe, after the invasion that we saw today."
Putin has called for NATO to cease its eastward expansion, including ruling out Ukraine joining the alliance.