Ankara, Dec 4: NATO looks forward to deepening partnerships with Georgia and Ukraine, the bloc’s chief said on Tuesday.
"NATO is proud of unique and distinct partnerships we have with Georgia and with Ukraine and we look forward to deepening them further," Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said in his opening remarks at the North Atlantic Council session with Georgia and Ukraine.
The two-day NATO Foreign Ministers' meeting will address a wide range of security challenges, including Russia, extremism in the Middle East and North Africa and continuing instability in Afghanistan.
Stoltenberg said NATO fully supports the sovereignty and territorial integrity of both countries and the alliance will continue to provide strong support for both Georgia and Ukraine, Anadolu said in a report.
"NATO allies do not and will not recognize Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea," he said.
Stoltenberg reiterated his call on Russia to ensure freedom of navigation and release the Ukrainian sailors and ships that it seized "without delay".
On Nov. 25, Russia seized two Ukrainian navy ships and a navy tugboat along with 23 crew members off Crimea, accusing Kiev of entering its waters and provoking a conflict.
On Wednesday, the ministers will hold a meeting on the Western Balkans with the participation of Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.
A meeting of all nations contributing to the Resolute Support training mission in Afghanistan will conclude Wednesday's session.
Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu -- who represents Turkey during the meeting -- is expected to have bilateral talks with his counterparts. (UNI)