NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen yesterday urged Russia to de-escalate tensions in Ukraine, according to his statements contained in a NATO news release. Rasmussen commented on the situation in Ukraine before attending meetings of the North Atlantic Council and the NATO-Ukraine Commission in Brussels.
“I have convened the North Atlantic Council today (March 2) because of Russia’s military action in Ukraine. And because of President Putin’s threats against this sovereign nation,” Rasmussen said in the release.
Following a Ukrainian pro-democracy coalition’s recent ouster of Ukraine’s pro-Russian government, the Russian military has been reported to be operating in and around the Crimea region in southeastern Ukraine, where the Russian Navy’s Black Sea Fleet has its principal base in Sevastopol on the Black Sea. The Crimea region is home to an ethic-Russian majority populace.
What Russia is doing now in Ukraine violates the principles of the United Nations Charter, Rasmussen said in the release. Russia’s actions in Ukraine, he added, threaten peace and security in Europe.
“Russia must stop its military activities and its threats,” Rasmussen said. “Today we will discuss their implications, for European peace and security and for NATO’s relationship with Russia. Afterwards, we will meet in the NATO-Ukraine Commission.”
NATO supports Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, Rasmussen said.
“We support the right of the people of Ukraine to determine their own future without outside interference,” he said. “And we emphasize the need for Ukraine to continue to uphold the democratic rights of all people and ensure that minority rights are protected.
“Ukraine is our neighbor,” Rasmussen continued, “and Ukraine is a valued partner for NATO.”
Rasmussen said NATO urges “all parties to urgently continue all efforts to move away from this dangerous situation.
“In particular, I call on Russia to de-escalate tensions,” he added.
The U.S. President Barack Obama and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel called their Russian counterparts on March 1 to express their concerns over recent events in Ukraine, according to White House and Defense Department news releases.
Obama spoke for 90 minutes with Russian President Vladimir Putin about the situation in Ukraine, expressing his deep concern over Russia’s clear violation of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity, which is a breach of international law, including Russia’s obligations under the U.N. Charter, and of its 1997 military basing agreement with Ukraine, and which is inconsistent with the 1994 Budapest Memorandum and the Helsinki Final Act.
The United States will suspend upcoming participation in preparatory meetings for the G-8, according to the White House release. Going forward, the release said, Russia’s continued violation of international law will lead to greater political and economic isolation.
Press Release, March 3, 2014, Image: US DOD