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NATO condemns Russia's actions against Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the deployment of troops to “maintain peace” in the breakaway regions of Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine after recognising them as independent on 21 February, warning Kyiv of a “bloodbath” if it resists.

The deployment was not the full-scale Russian invasion that Washington was warning would occur and equipment sightings on social media and satellite imagery showed Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republic forces.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg was quick to condemn Moscow's recognition of the two self-proclaimed republics for undermining Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity, eroding conflict resolution efforts, and violating the Minsk agreements that sought to end the conflict in Donbas.

Accusing Moscow of “trying to stage a pretext to invade Ukraine once again”, Stoltenberg said, “NATO supports the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognised borders. Allies urge Russia, in the strongest possible terms, to choose the path of diplomacy, and to immediately reverse its massive military build-up in and around Ukraine, and withdraw its forces from Ukraine in accordance with its international obligations and commitments.”

The North Atlantic Council, the alliance's highest decision making body, met on the morning of 22 February to discuss the situation, followed by an extraordinary meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Council in the afternoon. In the press conference afterwards, Stoltenberg welcomed the economic sanctions announced by “many” allies and the German government's decision not to certify the Nordstream 2 pipeline. Asked whether the alliance had activated the NATO Response Force (NRF), he noted that it was already on standby and repeated the list of countries that have deployed personnel and assets to reassure allies in the face of Russia's massing of troops near Ukraine.

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