NATO Suspends Cooperation with Russia, Bolsters Border Security
NATO's Foreign ministers agreed Tuesday to suspend civilian and military cooperation with Russia.
The decision does not scrap the NATO-Russia Council, but dialogue which was based on it could continue only "at ambassadorial level".
At a meeting in Brussels, measures were approved to bolster Eastern Europe's defense in Poland and the Baltic region and boost cooperation with former Soviet states for which Russia is a northern neighbor.
Military assistance to Moldova, Azerbaijan and Armenia is now to be increased, even though participants in the meeting made clear their goal of a Euro-Atlantic region that is "free and at peace".
No agreement was however reached on Poland's repeated proposal to permanently install NATO forces at its eastern flank, a move that could be considered a direct threat to Russia.
Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski openly called for two NATO brigades to be stationed in the country, the Guardian has reported.
Russia's Foreign Ministry did not immediately respond to the bloc's actions, but on its website Speaker Aleksander Lukashevich has described them as creating a "deja vu effect" resembling "language from the Cold War". He also said that it is not Russia and NATO who is set to win from ending collaboration in fields such as fighting terrorism and piracy.
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin has made remarks on his Twitter profile, saying that similar measures were approved in September 2008 after Russian actions in South Ossetia.
He also reminded, somewhat sardonically, that "they [NATO] were cold as ice for three months until December. What this means is a Cold war".
The Foreign Ministers declared their dismissal of Russian claims that 40 000-strong forces are being pulled back from the borders with Ukraine, as the Kremlin earlier sought to assert.
Angela Merkel, who also attended the meeting, cited reports according to which "the concentration of troops along the Ukrainian border is very high".
US general Philip Breedlove, who is NATO's Supreme Commander in Europe, was quoted as saying that Russia's buildup was "very, very sizeable and very, very ready".
Russia had a central place in NATO's discussions after Crimea's incorporation into its territory in mid-March following a regional referendum which approved secession from Ukraine.
Since then, the alliance has issued repeated warnings that the concentration of Russian forces at its south-western borders could have negative repercussions for other Ukrainian regions and ex-Soviet states as a whole.
Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said that Russia's annexation of Ukraine was "the gravest threat to European security for a generation".
The Guardian has commented the alliance's decision by stating that two decades after the end of the Cold war, NATO governments returned "to their core mission of protecting Europe from Russia".
Further measures, or review of the current situation, are due to be decided upon at the next meeting of the 28-member bloc in June.
NATO's moves have so far stopped short of inviting Ukraine into NATO, something that Russia has insistently warned Kiev against.
Ukrainian lawmakers nevertheless voted Tuesday in favour of holding joint exercises with NATO on the country's territory.
"the brown-nosed scum who support him [Putin]"---the absolute majority of Russians = scum? Great.
"Pariah dictator"? Great again, but what about though one proof? Btw, Seedy himself has offered the best
option: he can take a full-loaded gun and play Russian roulette. The first-shot hit will prove Seedy's case.......;-)
It's way past time that we started asking Russkis to prove that they do not support pariah dictators like Putin before they are permitted to leave their dog-kennel of a country and mix with decent people in free and democratic countries. Our governments are not perfect by any means but Putin and the brown-nosed scum who support him are only succeeding in making our crappy politicians look good in comparison: if Tsar Vlad truly wants the best for Russia he should show how patriotic he really is by playing Russian Roulette with a full-loaded gun.....
Bulgaria has just announced it will facilitate visas for Russians, that 4 additional visa centers will open in Russia – in addition to the 20 visa centers Bulgaria already has in Russia. I see Russian holidaymakers shifting to friendly countries such as Bulgaria. Wait to see how hating Russia and hosting NATO bases will hurt the Russophobic Baltic states! I hear no Russophobia rhetoric from Switzerland! By using aggressive anti-Russian agendas in the EU, the U.S. will break the EU fragile coalition and some countries within the EU will openly back Russia! So the US is stupid and continues to act foolishly every time!
This NATO is a hoax and should have been dismantled by now. If small nations are attacked, they should complain to the UN, and the UN should decide the course of action - unlike now when 28 countries decide what to do – remember the barbaric bombing of Serbia 15 years ago! If required, the UN should create the force for counter action. NATO is an illegal organization. It can be misused - like the way Turkey wanted to get NATO involved in Syria using false flagship. NATO is not an organization which can think or act in fairness - remember how they destroyed Lybia without establishing the facts.