The leaders of NATO’s Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF) countries said on Friday that they “condemn in the strongest possible terms Russia’s military attack on Ukraine.”
In a joint statement, NATO’s UK-led task group said they are “appalled by this brutal and unprovoked attack on a free and sovereign European country.”
They said the attack “constitutes a serious violation of international law, a grave breach of the United Nations Charter as well as core commitments Russia entered in the Helsinki Final Act, the Charter of Paris and the Budapest Memorandum.”
“We call on the Russian Federation to stop the bloodshed, to de-escalate immediately and to withdraw its forces to positions outside of the sovereign and internationally recognized borders of Ukraine.”
They also said they “strongly” support the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, adding that they are “united in our support for the people of Ukraine and its democratically elected government.”
The task group, which includes several Northern European and Scandinavian countries, also reiterated “the right of all sovereign states to choose their own path, and make their own security choices, free from external aggression and coercion, as a fundamental principle of the European security order.”
The statement added: “We are committed to uphold peace, stability and international law. JEF is an important contributor to regional security and stability.
“JEF nations are continuing with a series of planned exercises in Northern Europe to develop our cooperation by land, sea and air even further.”
The JEF is a task force under NATO made up of the UK, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden.
After a months-long buildup at the borders, Russia’s long-feared military intervention in Ukraine was announced early Thursday by President Vladimir Putin.
Putin said the operation aims to protect people “subjected to genocide” by Kyiv and to “demilitarize and denazify” Ukraine. He called on the Ukrainian army to lay down its arms.
According to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, more than 130 people, including civilians, were killed on the first day of the military intervention.