Nato chief Jens Stoltenberg condemned Russia’s “reckless and unprovoked attack” on Ukraine on Thursday, warning that it put “countless” lives in danger.
An emergency meeting of the 30-nation alliance’s ambassadors was to be held early Thursday to discuss the Russian attack, with Stoltenberg expected to give a press conference afterwards, a Nato official said separately.
“I strongly condemn Russia’s reckless and unprovoked attack on Ukraine, which puts at risk countless civilian lives,” Stoltenberg said in a statement.
He added, “Once again, despite our repeated warnings and tireless efforts to engage in diplomacy, Russia has chosen the path of aggression against a sovereign and independent country.”
“This is a grave breach of international law, and a serious threat to Euro-Atlantic security. I call on Russia to cease its military action immediately and respect Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” he said.
Stoltenberg went on to say, “We stand with the people of Ukraine at this terrible time. Nato will do all it takes to protect and defend all allies.”
The statement came after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a military operation in Ukraine, and air and missile attacks occurred across the country.
Ukraine is not a member of the Western military alliance of 30 countries, but its attempt to join has enraged the Kremlin leader.
Putin has demanded guarantees from Nato and the US that Ukraine will never be admitted to the organization.
Stoltenberg has previously stated that Nato has no plans to send troops to fight in Ukraine if Russia attacks, and key power Washington has also stated that it will not send troops to defend the country.