NATO Foreign Ministers agree to enhance security in the Black Sea region
Meeting in Washington D.C. on Thursday (4 April 2019), NATO Foreign Ministers agreed a package of measures to improve NATO’s situational awareness in the Black Sea region and strengthen support for partners Georgia and Ukraine.
Ministers also reiterated their call on Russia to release the Ukrainian sailors and ships seized near the Sea of Azov.
Earlier, Ministers addressed Russia’s continuing violation of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. They called on Russia again to return to full and verifiable compliance with the Treaty, and discussed the way forward. “We will be measured and coordinated in our response, and we have no intention of deploying ground-launched nuclear missiles in Europe,” said Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, adding: “at the same time, NATO will continue to maintain credible and effective deterrence and defence.”
US Permanent Representative to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Ambassador Kay Bailey Hutchison, said that NATO is set to guarantee the safe passage of ships via the Kerch Strait, connecting the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov, and to step up aerial surveillance in the area, US envoy to NATO.
The ambassador added that those measures were very important for making sure that "the countries in and around the Black Sea are safe from Russian meddling... It is very important that Romania, Bulgaria, and Ukraine, as well as Georgia, have the security in that Black Sea area both for ships but also for their land-based safety".
On the press conference following the first meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Foreign Ministers’ session, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that “this morning Allied Foreign Ministers addressed Russia’s continuing violation of the INF Treaty. By fielding multiple battalions of SSC-8 missiles, Russia has made the world a more dangerous place. And today, we all once again call on Russia to return to full and verifiable compliance with the INF Treaty. Russia’s ongoing violation of the INF Treaty is a pattern of destabilising behaviour. But time is running out. So NATO is preparing for a world without the INF Treaty. At the same time, NATO will continue to maintain credible and effective deterrence and defence... We agreed today a package of measures to improve our situational awareness. And to step up our support for both Georgia and Ukraine. In areas such as the training of maritime forces and coast guards. Port visits and exercises. And sharing information. This will build on our already close cooperation. Right now, one of NATO’s naval groups is on patrol in the Black Sea. And today, it is exercising with Ukrainian and Georgian ships. So we will maintain our focus, and our presence in this vital region".