The heads of state and government of the 30 nations comprising NATO have called on China to “abstain from supporting Russia’s war effort” in Ukraine. The military alliance also advised Beijing against trying to help Moscow circumvent Western sanctions.
Following an Extraordinary NATO Summit in Brussels on Thursday, which was devoted to Russia’s military offensive against Ukraine, the alliance issued a statement, which, on top of sharp criticism of Moscow, contained warnings to Beijing as well.
“We call on all states, including the People’s Republic of China (PRC),” the document reads, “to abstain from supporting Russia’s war effort in any way, and to refrain from any action that helps Russia circumvent sanctions.” NATO’s statement goes on to express concern over “recent public comments by PRC officials,” urging “China to cease amplifying the Kremlin’s false narratives, in particular on the war and on NATO.”
The Kremlin’s military campaign in Ukraine poses the “gravest threat to Euro-Atlantic security in decades,” NATO leaders argued. The statement calls on President Vladimir Putin to “immediately stop this war and withdraw military forces from Ukraine,” as well as “to allow rapid, safe, and unhindered humanitarian access and safe passage for civilians.”
A resolution proposed by Russia at the UN Security Council on Wednesday called for a ceasefire in Ukraine so that civilians could leave the areas worst affected by fighting. However, the document was not adopted as only Russia and China voted for it, while the 13 other members of the Security Council abstained.
In its Thursday statement, NATO accused Russian forces of staging “devastating attacks on civilians, including women, children,” – something Moscow has strongly denied all along.
The military alliance also warned those “responsible for violations of humanitarian and international law, including war crimes” that they would be held accountable.
Moreover, NATO leaders made a pledge to “counter Russia’s lies about its attack on Ukraine and expose fabricated narratives.”
The closing paragraphs of the statement are devoted to the measures NATO has taken over the past month, and those it is planning to implement in the near future. Since 2014, the military alliance has admittedly been providing “extensive support” to Ukraine, with assistance also going to other countries outside of NATO “affected by Russian threats and interference.”
On February 24, President Vladimir Putin announced the start of a military campaign in Ukraine, which was preceded by Russia’s decision to recognize the two Donbass republics. According to the Kremlin, it was Ukraine’s reluctance to implement the Minsk agreements which led to the escalation. The accords brokered back in 2015 by Germany and France were meant to have regularized the status of those breakaway regions within Ukraine.
Among Moscow’s objectives in the current conflict are firm guarantees that Ukraine will become a neutral state, and will not join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev and its Western allies, in turn, dismiss all of the above as merely a pretext for waging “unprovoked” aggression against a sovereign nation.
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