European heads condemn Russian annexations in Ukraine

(Photo: AFP)

WARSAW — The presidents of nine NATO countries in central and eastern Europe declared on Sunday they would never recognize the annexation by Russia of Ukrainian territory.اضافة اعلان

Their reaction comes two days after Russian President Vladimir Putin signed treaties 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”.

“We reiterate our support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine,” they said.

“We do not recognize and will never recognize Russian attempts to annex any Ukrainian territory.”

The statement was issued by the presidents of the Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia.

Four of the signatories — Poland, and the three Baltic states — are on NATO’s eastern flank with Russia.

Two others — Romania and Slovakia — have borders with Ukraine.

Hungary, which also borders Ukraine, was notably absent from the list. Its nationalist prime minister, Viktor Orban, has sought close ties with Putin in recent years and railed against EU sanctions on the Kremlin.

The presidents said they stood by a decision NATO made 14 years ago, supporting Ukraine’s wish to join the transatlantic military alliance at a future date.

They did not comment on Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula in 2014, or on Ukraine’s request last Friday for fast-track NATO membership following Russia’s annexation maneuver.

NATO members have hesitated at accepting a country at war — which, by treaty, would oblige the alliance to come to its defense.

NATO’s Article 5 says an attack on one member is tantamount to attack on all.

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