Nato: Significant additional defensive deployments to eastern flank

Nato is carrying out significant additional defensive deployments of forces to the eastern part of the Alliance, according to a joint statement by Nato heads of state and government following a meeting on February 25 to respond to “the gravest threat to Euro-Atlantic security in decades”, the invasion of Ukraine by Russia that began on February 24.

“We will continue to take all measures and decisions required to ensure the security and defence of all Allies,” the joint statement said.

“We have deployed defensive land and air forces in the eastern part of the Alliance, and maritime assets across the Nato area.”

The statement said that Nato’s defence plans had been activated “to prepare ourselves to respond to a range of contingencies and secure Alliance territory, including by drawing on our response forces”.

“We are now making significant additional defensive deployments of forces to the eastern part of the Alliance.

“We will make all deployments necessary to ensure strong and credible deterrence and defence across the Alliance, now and in the future. Our measures are and remain preventive, proportionate and non-escalatory,” the statement said.

Addressing a news conference after the meeting, Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that Nato leaders had called on Russia “to stop this senseless war, immediately cease its assault, withdraw all its forces from Ukraine, and turn back to the path of dialogue and turn away from aggression”.

Stoltenberg said that Nato had deployed elements of its rapid response force on land, sea and in the air to eastern Europe.

Nato had “already strengthened our defence” and that the US, Canada and European countries had already deployed thousands of troops to the region.

Stoltenberg said that more than 100 fighter jets were now operating in 30 defence locations in Europe, while there were more than 120 ships and three strike carrier groups deployed.

EU foreign ministers were meeting on February 25 on sanctions against Russia, including against Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov personally, though these sanctions were not to include travel bans.

February 25 saw moves by geopolitical, sport and entertainment bodies in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The Council of Europe said that in line with its statute, the Committee of Ministers had decided to suspend Russia from its rights of representation in the Committee of Ministers and in the Parliamentary Assembly with immediate effect as a result of the Russian Federation’s armed attack on Ukraine.

The decision adopted today means that the Russian Federation remains a member of the Council of Europe and party to the relevant Council of Europe conventions, including the European Convention on Human Rights, the Council of Europe said.

The judge elected to the European Court of Human Rights in respect of the Russian Federation also remains a member of the Court, and applications introduced against the Russian Federation will continue to be examined and decided by the Court.

“Suspension is not a final measure but a temporary one, leaving channels of communication open,” the Council of Europe said.

A statement on the official website of UEFA said that its executive committee had decided to relocate the final of the 2021/22 UEFA Men’s Champions League from Saint Petersburg to Stade de France in Saint-Denis.

The game will be played as initially scheduled on May 28 at 9pm CET, the statement said.

“UEFA wishes to express its thanks and appreciation to French Republic President Emmanuel Macron for his personal support and commitment to have European club football’s most prestigious game moved to France at a time of unparalleled crisis,” the statement said.

“Together with the French government, UEFA will fully support multi-stakeholder efforts to ensure the provision of rescue for football players and their families in Ukraine who face dire human suffering, destruction and displacement.”

At the February 25 meeting, the UEFA Executive Committee also decided that Russian and Ukrainian clubs and national teams competing in UEFA competitions would be required to play their home matches at neutral venues until further notice, the statement said.

The FIA Formula 1 World Championship said: “We are watching the developments in Ukraine with sadness and shock and hope for a swift and peaceful resolution to the present situation.”

“On Thursday evening Formula 1, the FIA, and the teams discussed the position of our sport, and the conclusion is, including the view of all relevant stakeholders, that it is impossible to hold the Russian Grand Prix in the current circumstances,” the statement said.

The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) announced on February 25 that no Russian act will participate in this year’s Eurovision Song Contest.

“The decision reflects concern that, in light of the unprecedented crisis in Ukraine, the inclusion of a Russian entry in this year’s Contest would bring the competition into disrepute,” the EBU said, saying that it had taken time to consult widely among its membership.

“The EBU is an apolitical member organization of broadcasters committed to upholding the values of public service.

“We remain dedicated to protecting the values of a cultural competition which promotes international exchange and understanding, brings audiences together, celebrates diversity through music and unites Europe on one stage,” the EBU said.

(Photo of Stoltenberg: Nato)

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