The presidents of nine NATO nations in the central and eastern region of Europe has declared on Sunday they would never recognise the annexation by Russia of Ukrainian territory.
Their reactions come two days following Russian President, Vladimir Putin signed treaties to annex four Moscow-occupied regions of Ukraine- Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk and Zaporizhzhia, after “referendums” the West has dismissed as “sham.”
The presidents have issued a joint statement stating that they could not “stay silent in the face of the blatant violation of the international rule by the Russian Federation.”
They added that, “We reiterate our support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. We do not recognise and will never recognise 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.
It’s nationalist prime minister, Viktor Orban, has sought close relations with Putin in recent years and railed against EU sanctions on the Kremlin.
Also absent were Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia and Slovenia.
The statement, which was released on the website of the Polish president’s office, said the leaders of the signatory nations had “visited Kyiv during the war and witnessed with their own eyes the effects of Russia’s aggression.”
“We support Ukraine in its war against Russia’s invasion, demand Russia to immediately withdraw from all the occupied territories and encourage all (NATO) Allies to substantially increase their military aid to Ukraine,” it said.
“All those who commit crimes of aggression must be held responsible and brought to justice.”