NATO PA urges united stance on Russia, support for Ukraine

Istanbul, 19 November 2016 – Lawmakers from NATO’s Parliamentary Assembly adopted reports Saturday urging Alliance nations to stand firm in supporting Ukraine and maintain a strong stance against Russian belligerence.

“It is clear that conditions for an improved relationship currently do not exist; that Russia’s foreign policy priorities and the values underpinning these priorities remain in fundamental conflict with those of NATO,” says a report adopted by the NATO PA’s Political Committee. “Through its actions and rhetoric, Russia continues to unsettle the European security environment and undermine the stability upon which Alliance security depends.”

Tensions with Russia and the conflict in Ukraine were a major theme on the first full day of the Assembly’s annual session held this year in Istanbul. Members heard a sobering assessment from James Sherr, a Russia expert at Britain’s Chatham House think tank, who warned current tensions between Moscow and the West are “more dangerous” than the Cold War.

Legislators appealed for Western Allies to remain resolute and united in the face of Russian efforts to create divisions.

“Against the backdrop of continued Russian provocations, maintaining a unified approach among the Allies will be crucial for our credibility and cohesion,” said Lithuanian lawmaker Rasa Jukneviciene, who authored the report. “Russia is no longer the superpower it was during the Cold War, but it still wields considerable influence in the world. Russia seeks to create chaos and divide the West.”

Western support for Ukraine is key to thwarting Russian destabilization efforts, lawmakers said.

‘We in this Committee and this Assembly will do what we can to support Ukraine and to facilitate your Euro-Atlantic integration as long as Ukraine remains firmly on the path of reforms and democracy,” Lord Jopling from Britain told Ukrainian parliamentarians. “I am convinced that we should support you not only for the sake of Ukraine, but also for the sake of the entire community of free and democratic nations which is currently being challenged on a global scale.

Jopling drafted a report adopted by the NATO PA’s Committee on the Civil Dimension of Security, which called on NATO nations to increase financial and expert assistance to support reforms in Ukraine and help its struggle for independence and territorial integrity.

Given Russia’s continued illegal occupation of Ukraine’s southern Crimea province and continued aggression in eastern Ukraine, lawmakers said it was no time to relax Western sanctions. “The sanctions need to be re-affirmed, if not strengthened,” said Congressman Gerald Connolly, acting head of the US delegation. “The message to Vladimir Putin must be strong and must be collective and must be reaffirmed.”