Reports have revealed that some of the presidents of some of the nine NATO countries which are located in the central and eastern Europe had declared on Sunday they would never recognise the recent annexation by Russia of Ukrainian territory.
Their reaction is also coming two days after the Russian President Vladimir Putin had signed some of the treaty documents to annex four Moscow-occupied regions of Ukraine — Donetsk, Kherson, Lugansk, and Zaporizhzhia — following “referendums” the West has dismissed as “sham”.
The presidents issued a joint statement saying they could not “stay silent in the face of the blatant violation of international law by the Russian Federation over the annexation”.
“We reiterate our support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine,” they said.
“We do not recognise and will never recognise Russian attempts to annex any Ukrainian territory.”
The statement had also been issued by the presidents of the Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Poland, Romania and Slovakia and four of the signatories — Poland, and the three Baltic states — are on NATO’s eastern flank with Russia. The remaining two others — Romania and Slovakia — have borders with Ukraine.
Hungary, which is also bordering with Ukraine had been notably absent from the list and its nationalist prime minister, Viktor Orban, has sought close ties with Putin in recent years and railed against European Union sanctions on the Kremlin.
Also absent were Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, and Slovenia.
The statement, published on the website of the Polish president’s office, said the leaders of the signatory countries had “visited Kyiv during the war and witnessed with their own eyes the effects of Russian aggression”.
“We support Ukraine in its defence against Russia’s invasion, demand Russia to immediately withdraw from all the occupied territories, and encourage all (NATO) Allies to substantially increase their military aid to Ukraine,” it said.
“All those who commit crimes of aggression must be held accountable and brought to justice.”
The presidents said they stood by a decision NATO made 14 years ago, supporting Ukraine’s wish to join the trans-Atlantic military alliance at a future date.