US and Nato leaders on Thursday welcomed the UN’s condemnation of Russia’s attempted annexation of four eastern Ukrainian territories.
The vote came before the second and last day of meetings in Brussels among Nato defence ministers, who promised further military aid and air defence capabilities to Ukraine.
“The vote in the UN was a clear condemnation of the illegal annexation of Ukrainian territories and a clear call on Putin to reverse these decisions and respect the territorial integrity of Ukraine,” said Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, who gave a statement alongside US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin.
Mr Austin said he was in “absolute agreement” with Mr Stoltenberg’s statement.
“The US is absolutely committed to its Article 5 commitments, and we are committed to defending every inch of Nato’s territory if and when it comes to that," Mr Austin said.
On Wednesday he praised Ukraine’s “extraordinary gains on the battlefield”, which he attributed in part to “vital support from Nato allies, including billions of dollars in military aid, as well as humanitarian and financial assistance.
Three quarters of the 193-member United Nations General Assembly voted on Wednesday in favour of a resolution that called Moscow’s annexation of Ukrainian territories illegal.
Only four countries joined Russia in voting against the resolution ― Syria, Nicaragua, North Korea and Belarus. Thirty-five countries abstained from the vote, including Russia's strategic partner China, while the rest did not vote.
In Brussels, meanwhile, more than 50 western countries promised more military aid to Ukraine, especially air defence weapons, just days after heavy Russian air strikes on Ukraine and its capital Kyiv.
German Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht said on Wednesday that a first Iris-T air defence system promised to Kyiv by Germany has reached Ukraine. Britain pledged air defence missiles, and Canada said it would provide artillery rounds, among other supplies.
Mr Austin thanked Nato members for their pledges, saying on Thursday that it “speaks to the point that this alliance [Nato] is the essential forum for consultation and decision making and action when it comes to security of the region and transatlantic security as well”.
US security assistance to Ukraine since February totals $16.8 bllion.
Ukraine’s Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov and Ukraine’s joint forces commander Maj Gen Eduard Moskalyov were invited to attend Nato meetings this week, as well as the Finnish and Swedish defence ministers.
Finland and Sweden asked to join Nato in May, three months after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Mr Austin said that he looked forward to welcoming both countries in the alliance “at some point in the future”.
So far, almost all Nato's 30 member states have agreed to their accession, bar Hungary and Turkey.