NATO will deploy more troops to eastern Europe after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the alliance’s leaders have announced.
“No one should be fooled by the Russian government’s barrage of lies,” the 30 leaders said in a joint statement after a virtual summit chaired by Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.
“We are now making significant additional defensive deployments of forces to the eastern part of the alliance,” the statement said.
NATO to deploy elements of response force
Mr Stoltenberg said NATO would deploy elements of its response force “to respond quickly to any contingency”, as well as continue sending weapons to Ukraine, including air defences.
He warned Russia’s invasion was “the gravest threat to Euro-Atlantic security in decades”.
He said: “Rusia has shattered peace in Europe. The people of Ukraine are fighting for their freedom in the face of Russia’s unprovoked invasion. We deplore the tragic loss of life, enormous human suffering and destruction.”
He added: “We call on Russia to stop this senseless war, immediately cease its assaults, withdraw all its forces from Ukraine and turn back to the path of dialogue and turn away from aggression.”
The Kremlin’s objectives “are not limited to Ukraine,” he warned.
“We are facing a new normal in European security where Russia openly contests the European security order and uses force to pursue its objectives.
He said the world will hold Russia and Belarus accountable for their actions: “Russia as the aggressor, Belarus as the enabler.”
EU to freeze Putin’s assets
Meanwhile, the European Union has agreed to freeze the assets of Russian President Vladimir Putin and his foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, along with other sanctions.
Latvian foreign minister Edgars Rinkevics tweeted that the EU’s foreign ministers “adopted the 2nd sanctions package” and added “the asset freeze includes President of Russia and its Foreign Minister”.
He said the EU plans to prepare another package of sanctions.
Such a decision to freeze Mr Putin and Mr Lavrov’s assets suggests western powers are moving towards unprecedented measures to try to halt the invasion of Ukraine.