Nato to continue support to Ukraine, as ICJ tells Russia to suspend invasion

Nato will continue to provide significant support to Ukraine, including with military supplies, financial help and humanitarian aid, the Alliance’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told a news conference on March 16 after a meeting of Nato defence ministers.

Stoltenberg said that the Nato allies all agreed to the decision not to deploy the Alliance’s forces on the ground or in the air in Ukraine because Nato had a responsibility “to ensure that this war does not escalate beyond Ukraine”.

He told the news conference: “Moscow should not be in doubt, Nato will not tolerate any attack on allied sovereignty or territorial integrity”.

There should be more forces on land in Nato’s eastern flank, he said.

Earlier on March 16, Stoltenberg said that Nato was reinforcing its collective defence.

There were hundreds of thousands of troops on heightened alert, he said.

“One hundred thousand US troops in Europe. And 40 000 troops under direct Nato command, mostly in the eastern part of our Alliance. Supported by naval and air forces,” Stoltenberg said.

On March 15, Stoltenberg said that he had convened a special Nato summit of heads of government and state for March 24 at Nato headquarters in Brussels.

“We will address Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, our strong support for Ukraine, and further strengthening Nato’s deterrence and defence,” he said.

The International Court of Justice (ICJ), ruling on March 16 in a court case by Ukraine against Russia, said in a decision adopted by 13 votes to two: “The Russian Federation shall immediately suspend the military operations that it commenced on 24 February 2022 in the territory of Ukraine”.

The ICJ said that it had found no evidence of “genocide” by Ukraine against Russian-speakers, a claim that Russian President Vladimir Putin had put forward as the pretext for the invasion.

The court said, again by 13 votes to two, that Russia “shall ensure that any military or irregular armed units which may be directed or supported by it, as well as any organizations and persons which may be subject to its control or direction, take no steps in furtherance of the military operations”.

ICJ judges agreed unanimously: “Both Parties shall refrain from any action which might aggravate or extend the dispute before the Court or make it more difficult to resolve”.

The ICJ ruling, which is binding, was welcomed by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, but is not expected to be heeded by Russia, which boycotted the court’s proceedings.

In a separate statement, the Council of Europe said that at a special meeting on March 16, its committee of ministers had decided that Russia’s membership of the Council of Europe had ceased.

Russia joined the Council of Europe on February 28 1996.

Following the invasion of Ukraine ordered by Putin, the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly unanimously agreed that Russia could not be a member of the organisation.

The Council of Europe’s committee of ministers suspended Russia on February 25, to which Russia responded by saying it was leaving the organisation and denouncing the European Convention on Human Rights.

(Photo: Nato)

For the rest of The Sofia Globe’s continuing coverage of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, please click here.

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