NATO to continue to provide support to Ukraine regardless the situation around INF Treaty – Stoltenberg
NATO will continue supporting Ukraine amid Russian aggression in Donbas and Crimea, seeing no direct link between efforts to solve the Ukraine crisis and bring Russia back into compliance with the Treaty on the Elimination of Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles (INF Treaty), NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said.
"The illegal annexation of Crimea and the continued efforts to destabilize Ukraine is part of a broader pattern we have seen over several years. But at the same time we don't see any direct link between the efforts to solve the crisis in and around Ukraine – as in eastern Ukraine, Donbas, and Crimea – and efforts to bring Russia back into compliance with the INF Treaty... We will continue to provide political and practical support for Ukraine at the same time as we are calling on Russia to come back into compliance [with the Treaty] and preparing for our response if Russia doesn't come back into compliance," he said at a press conference in Brussels on Wednesday, answering a question whether it is more difficult to solve the Ukrainian issue with the Russian Federation's position on the implementation of the INF Treaty.
At the same time, Stoltenberg said NATO remains focused on both directions – the Ukraine issue and the INF Treaty.
He also noted Russia's more assertive behavior in the past several years. "The violation of the INF Treaty, the deployment of new SSC-8 missiles are part of a pattern we have seen over several years from Russia – a more assertive behavior, aggressive actions against Ukraine, the illegal annexation of Crimea, modernization of the armed forces, investment in new conventional capabilities, investment in new nuclear capabilities and also rhetoric which is much more assertive that we have seen before," he said.