On December 18, while commenting on the Russian Defense Ministry’s statement about the deployment of more than ten Su-27SM and Su-30M2 fighters from Krymsk in the Krasnodar Territory to the Crimean airfield Belbek, NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu said that the ongoing militarization of the Crimea and the Black and Azov Seas threatens the sovereignty of Ukraine and undermines the stability of the entire region, DW reports.
The alliance stated that Russia must release the Ukrainian sailors and return the ships it seized in the Kerch Strait to Ukraine since the escalation could not be in anyone's interest. The alliance’s representative also noted that during a meeting with President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg thanked Ukraine for calm and restraint during the crisis in the Kerch Strait.
According to Lungescu, NATO remains vigilant and continues to monitor events in the region. The alliance also continues to provide political and practical support to Ukraine, including the military equipment for encrypted communication which was provided to the Ukrainian Armed Forces.
Lungescu stated that NATO has significantly increased its presence in the Black Sea and will continue to monitor the situation in the region.