Russia earlier declared that the seizure and annexation of Crimea had nothing to do with Russia, but was a result of internal Ukraine processes. NATO dismissed assurances from Putin that there would be a pull-back of an estimated 40,000 troops along Ukraine’s eastern borders.
NATO foreign ministers said that there was no evidence to support this. At the most, a battalion size group was pulled back, which could be part of normal troop rotation. NATO Secretary General Fogh Rasmussen said, “Unfortunately, I cannot confirm that Russia is withdrawing its troops. This is not what we have seen.” This was echoed by British foreign secretary and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
The British foreign secretary, William Hague, said: “We have heard some statements or rumours that Russia was pulling back from the eastern border of Ukraine, but we haven’t seen the evidence of that yet.”
“The concentration of troops along the Ukraine border is very high,” said Angela Merkel, the German chancellor. NewsRepublic
As a result of yesterday’s meeting, NATO foreign ministers resolved that all military and civilian co-operation with Russia would cease. They, once again, declared that the annexation of Crimea was illegal, in accordance with international law, as resolved by the UN General Assembly. They also reaffirmed that they would stand with the Ukraine and to reassure Poland and the Baltic states, member countries would look at how to boost its military presence.
We, the Foreign Ministers of NATO, are united in our condemnation of Russia’s illegal military intervention in Ukraine and Russia’s violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. We do not recognize Russia’s illegal and illegitimate attempt to annex Crimea. We urge Russia to take immediate steps, as set out in the statement by the NATO-Ukraine Commission, to return to compliance with international law and its international obligations and responsibilities, and to engage immediately in a genuine dialogue towards a political and diplomatic solution that respects international law and Ukraine’s internationally recognized borders. We support the deployment of an OSCE monitoring mission to Ukraine.
Our goal of a Euro-Atlantic region whole, free, and at peace has not changed, but has been fundamentally challenged by Russia. We support the sovereignty, political independence, and territorial integrity of all states within their internationally recognised borders. An independent, sovereign, and stable Ukraine, firmly committed to democracy and respect for human rights, minorities, and the rule of law, is key to Euro-Atlantic security.
Ukraine is not a member nation of NATO and is not likely to be in the near future. The U.S. and its allies have no interest in getting involved in a military conflict with Russia and one has to question how much the statement is worth. Militarily NATO is not in a position to tackle a Russian military and President Obama has made it clear that he is not interested in starting a new cold war.
Putin for all intends and purposes has ignored the current sanctions and travel bans on some Russians and has responded in kind. President Obama considers Russia a regional threat, but not a geopolitical one. At least this is what he said when he was asked if Mitt Romney was correct in his assumption that Russia was the the greatest geopolitical threat to the U.S. It may have been just politics.
Supplying affordable energy to the Ukraine and the EU is of essence and it leaves both Ukraine and Europe vulnerable. Secretary of State John Kerry reference this during his remarks preceding the U.S.- EU Energy Council.
I think the difficulties of the recent days underscore the imperative to what brings us here today: energy security – not just for Ukraine but all across Europe – that it frankly requires a major amount of transatlantic cooperation and transatlantic leadership. And that’s why President Obama asked us to come together with our European partners in order to tackle these challenges head-on.
It really boils down to this: No nation should use energy to stymie a people’s aspirations. It should not be used as a weapon. It’s in the interest of all of us to be able to have adequate energy supplies critical to our economies, critical to our security, critical to the prosperity of our people. And we can’t allow it to be used as a political weapon or as an instrument for aggression. So we are taking important steps today in order to make it far more difficult for people to deploy that tool.
It would appear that Putin continues to hold the trump card. He has gained unprecedented support for his stance in Russia and everyone is waiting with baited breath to see what his next move will be.