By Gerald E. CONNOLLY (United States), NATO PA President, and Michal SZCZERBA (Poland), Co-Chair of the Ukraine-NATO Interparliamentary Council (UNIC) on behalf of the Standing Committee
Meeting in Athens today, the Standing Committee condemned in the strongest possible terms Russia’s ongoing war of aggression against Ukraine and confirmed its full solidarity with Ukraine, its democratically elected government and parliament and the Ukrainian people. We reaffirmed our unwavering support for Ukraine’s democracy, independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity.
With its aggression against Ukraine, Russia seeks to crush Ukraine’s democracy, intimidate other sovereign and democratic countries and, by extension, undermine the values that are fundamental to NATO and the entire democratic, civilised and peaceful world.
In the face of this brutal aggression, the remarkable bravery of the Armed Forces and security services of Ukraine and of volunteers, the unity and resolve of the Ukrainian people and the Ukrainian authorities’ outstanding leadership deserve our profound respect, admiration and support.
We are committed to continue building a strong global coalition to support Ukraine with all possible assistance. We urge the NATO member governments and parliaments to increase substantially the supply of military equipment and intelligence sharing which Ukraine urgently needs to defend itself against Russian aggression as well as to provide further emergency humanitarian assistance, support to Ukrainian refugees and substantial short- and long-term financial and material assistance.
We are also determined to continue to increase pressure on Russia to cease all military and hybrid operations and immediately withdraw its troops from Ukraine. Our nations will maintain and increase massive, crippling and sustained sanctions for however long it takes until Russia reverses its illegal actions and withdraws all of its troops from all Ukraine’s territory within its internationally recognised borders. We will continue to enlarge the list of sanctioned oligarchs and officials connected with the Russian regime, their families as well as propagandists and state media, to expel Russian diplomats engaged in hostile activities, including spreading hate speech, disinformation and fuelling the conflict, and to phase out coal, gas, oil and uranium imports from Russia.
We will also continue to press Russia to engage constructively in talks with Ukraine to achieve concrete results, starting with a sustainable ceasefire and moving towards a complete withdrawal of its troops from Ukrainian territory.
Russia must know that the international community will never recognise the illegal and illegitimate occupation and annexation of Crimea, the “independence” of the so-called Luhansk and Donetsk People’s Republics, Russia's occupation of Ukraine's territorial waters nor any attempt by Russia to create illegitimate alternative administrative structures in Ukraine.
We condemn in the strongest terms the serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law by the Russian armed forces, including attacks against civilian populations and civilian infrastructure, and call on our governments and parliaments to support the International Criminal Court and other relevant international bodies in investigating the war crimes committed and bringing the perpetrators to justice.
We are also deeply concerned about the increased risks faced by the most vulnerable groups in times of conflict, in particular women and children, including the risk of sexual violence and human trafficking.
We must also hold the Belarusian dictatorship accountable for its support of and role in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and maintain and increase massive, crippling and sustained economic sanctions against the Belarusian regime.
Russia’s actions mark a turning point and create a new strategic reality which NATO Allies and partners must adjust to immediately and for the long term.
We are resolved to help bolster democracy in Allied and partner nations more specifically among those partners at risk as a result of Russian activities and continue to defend the fundamental principles of the rules-based international order, including the right of all nations to choose their own path. We have reaffirmed our steadfast support for the path towards Euro-Atlantic integration, which the Ukrainian people have chosen and is anchored in Ukraine’s Constitution.
We applaud the unity demonstrated by NATO Allies in the face of Russian aggression, the practical and political support provided to Ukraine and the swift and necessary measures taken by the Alliance to move towards a forward defence posture. We urge swift implementation of these measures, including the permanent deployment of a significant number of troops and equipment along NATO’s Eastern flank, ensuring the capability and readiness to defend every inch of NATO territory.
We urge our governments to remain vigilant and ensure effective information exchange on potential further Russian aggressive actions beyond Ukraine. We must also step up political and practical, including military, support for other NATO aspirants and partners subject to Russian pressure and attempted intimidation.
Russia’s renewed attack on Ukraine fits into a pattern of systematic attempts to undermine the rules-based international order. NATO’s new Strategic Concept must clearly identify Russia’s revisionism and aggressive actions and rhetoric, including aggressive nuclear rhetoric, as the most immediate and principal threat to Euro-Atlantic security and respond by moving to “forward defence”, adjusting adequately NATO’s posture, NATO’s defence plans, especially on the front line of NATO’s Eastern flank, command and control structure and military preparedness. At the same time, it must place shared democratic values at the heart of NATO’s response to today’s challenges, including through the establishment, within NATO, of a Democratic Resilience Centre.