"Despite Moscow's hollow denials, it is now clear that Russian troops and equipment have illegally crossed the border into eastern and south-eastern Ukraine. This is not an isolated action," NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said following the meeting, "but part of a dangerous pattern over many months to destabilize Ukraine as a sovereign nation."
NATO has repeatedly warned Russia to cease supplying Ukrainian separatists with arms and military equipment and withdraw its soldiers from the border region. With the recent incursion, NATO noted, "Russian forces are engaged in direct military operations inside Ukraine."
Rasmussen, sounding frustrated and exasperated, declared that Russian aggression "defies all diplomatic efforts for a peaceful solution."
"Today, we expressed strong solidarity with Ukraine." Next week, NATO members will convene at the Wales Summit "to make clear NATO's unwavering support for Ukraine."
On Thursday, U.S. President Barack Obama warned that Russia's continued escalatory actions will result in additional sanctions and international isolation, which he said would be coordinated with European allies and NATO colleagues.