NATO deployed a “Response Force” to counter the Russian incursion on Ukraine on Friday, Feb. 25, Fox News reports. “This goes far beyond Ukraine,” said NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.
This is the first time the Response Force has been deployed and includes the U.S., U.K., France and Germany, according to Stoltenberg.
NATO released a press statement on February 25 to explain the strategy behind the response force:
“We have met today to discuss the gravest threat to Euro-Atlantic security in decades. We condemn in the strongest possible terms Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, enabled by Belarus,” said NATO Heads of State.
The heads of state then enforced their condemnation of Russia and Belarus’ joint actions. This comes as President Zelensky stated the civilian casualties were now counted at least 137 civilians. Experts warned that casualties counts may not be accurate, as the situation is processed.
“We call on Russia to immediately cease its military assault, to withdraw all its forces from Ukraine and to turn back from the path of aggression it has chosen. This long-planned attack on Ukraine, an independent, peaceful and democratic country, is brutal and wholly unprovoked and unjustified. We deplore the tragic loss of life, enormous human suffering and destruction caused by Russia’s actions. Peace on the European continent has been fundamentally shattered,” the agency states.
“The world will hold Russia, as well as Belarus, accountable for their actions. We call on all states to condemn this unconscionable attack unreservedly. No one should be fooled by the Russian government’s barrage of lies,” the agency added, explaining that they hold Russia “fully responsible,” for the current Ukraine-Russia conflict.
The agency states that Russia has fully rejected the “principles enshrined in the NATO-Russia Founding Act,” a pact reached in the 1997-2001 era which initiated mutual cooperative relations between the NATO alliance members and Russia. This is in direct contrast to a statement made by the Kremlin previously in which Vladimir Putin accused NATO of “failing to accept Russia’s security concerns,” regarding the instability in the Donbas region.
NATO additionally pledged its full support of the democratically-elected President Volodymyr Zelensky. The alliance then stated that it would “draw all the necessary consequences for NATO’s deterrence and defense posture.”
The agency concluded its statement by enforcing the mutual support of Article 5, the treaty’s article that ensures if one member of NATO is attacked, all members will come to their defense.
The full text of Article 5 reads as follows:
“The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defense recognised by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area.
Any such armed attack and all measures taken as a result thereof shall immediately be reported to the Security Council. Such measures shall be terminated when the Security Council has taken the measures necessary to restore and maintain international peace and security.”
On Feb. 25, NATO reinforced its commitment to the Washington Treaty, extending the defense of the “Parties” to all “Allies.”
“Our commitment to Article 5 of the Washington Treaty is iron-clad. We stand united to protect and defend all Allies. Freedom will always win over oppression,” wrote NATO press.
NATO and Ukraine have had an allied cooperation relationship since the Russian-Ukraine conflict of 2014, see NATO brief. The alliance has supported Ukraine’s security efforts, as well as its cyber defense, logistics, and so forth. Ukraine joined NATO’s enhanced interoperability program in the summer of 2020. However, Ukraine does not have official membership status in the alliance.