Russia must face consequences of its action in Ukraine: NATO
Washington: NATO has said Russia should face the consequences of its military action in Ukraine, asserting that the annexation of Crimea through a “so-called referendum held at gunpoint is illegal and illegitimate”.
“The Russian behavior must have consequences. I mean, when I study the founding documents that create the framework for our partnership with Russia, I can see Russia in blatant breach of all the fundamental principles,” NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said yesterday.
In view of the Russian actions in Ukraine, Rasmussen, while addressing a meeting, said NATO has also taken measures to strengthen its readiness.
“They include more assets for our Baltic air policing mission, surveillance flights over Poland and Romania, and heightened awareness. Allies have taken further steps to impose diplomatic and economic consequences. These are not our preferred choice. They are inevitable and appropriate consequences of Russia’s choices,” he said.
“The annexation of Crimea through a so-called referendum held at gunpoint is illegal and illegitimate, and it undermines all efforts to find a peaceful political solution. This is a wake-up call for the Euro-Atlantic community, for NATO, and for all those committed to a Europe whole, free and at peace,” he said.
Observing that NATO countries cannot take its security for granted, Rasmussen said this was the gravest threat to European security and stability since the end of the Cold War.
“First, because of its scale, with one of the largest movement of troops for many decades; second, because of the stakes: the freedom of 45 million people and their right to make their own choice; and third, because this crisis is right on NATO’s border,” he said.
Noting that Ukraine cannot be viewed in isolation, and this crisis is not just about Ukraine, he said this is called 21st-century revisionism: attempts to turn back the clock, to draw new dividing lines on our map, to monopolize markets, shuffle populations, rewrite or simply rip up the international rulebook, and to use force to solve problems rather than the international mechanisms that we have spent decades to build.
“We had thought that such behavior had been confined to history, but its back, and it’s dangerous because it violates international norms of accepted behavior. It exports instability, it reduces the potential to cooperate and build trust, and ultimately it undermines our security. Not just NATO’s or Ukraine’s security, but also Russia’s,” he said.
“If the rules don’t apply, if agreements are not honored, certainly Russia also stands to suffer the consequences,” Rasmussen said.
“Russia was among those who committed in 1994 to respect Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. Russia pledged not to threaten or use force against Ukraine. By turning its back on that agreement, Russia has called into question its credibility and reliability as an international actor. And its steps to annex Crimea are a clear violation of the United Nations Charter,” the NATO chief said.
NATO’s clear position has been to condemn Russia’s military actions in Ukraine, to stand firmly in support of the government in Kiev, and to make clear that President Putin’s decisions to escalate the situation have consequences, he said.
“As a first step, we have suspended joint planning for a maritime escort mission for the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons. This would have been the first joint operation of the NATO-Russia Council. We also decided that no staff-level civilian or military meetings with Russia will take place for now,” he said.
“We have put the entire range of NATO-Russia cooperation under review. NATO foreign ministers will take decisions when they meet in Brussels early next month. At the same time, we have kept the door open for political dialogue in the NATO-Russia Council to give Russia an opportunity to engage,” Rasmussen said.