During the Wednesday video conference attended by the defense and foreign ministers of the North Atlantic Alliance (NATO), solidarity with Ukraine in the conflict with Russia was declared, and the date for the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan was set.
The Alliance ministers called on Russia to immediately withdraw its troops from the Ukrainian border and from the illegally annexed Crimea.
“They also expressed their concern about the largest concentration of Russian troops on the Ukrainian border since 2014,” the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said, adding that if Russia takes military action against Ukraine, it “will suffer the consequences.”
The ministers also established that the withdrawal of NATO troops from Afghanistan would begin on May 1 and end on September 11, on the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington that led to the deployment of troops to the country.
“Together, we prevented Afghanistan from being a safe haven for terrorist attacks on our countries. There has been no attack on allies organised in Afghanistan since the 9/11 attacks. We also helped build Afghan security forces from the outset,” NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg emphasised. He added that all the allies entered Afghanistan together and would leave it together.
“It is not an easy decision and comes with risks,” he admitted, adding however, that the alternative to leaving Afghanistan would be NATO’s long-term stay in the country and the need to increase forces.
NATO’s spokeswoman, Oana Lungescu, referred to the video conference on social media.
[email protected]: #NATO Allies will start withdrawing @ResoluteSupport forces in a coordinated way by 1 May, & will start a new chapter in relations with #Afghanistan.����
Allies also expressed support for #Ukraine ���� amid Russia’s military build-up.
ℹ️: https://t.co/gADuvYbx4m pic.twitter.com/HpapgjfPC7
— Oana Lungescu (@NATOpress) April 14, 2021