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NATO steps up Ukraine cooperation, reviews it with Russia

European Union Council President Herman Van Rompuy (R) welcomes NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, prior to a meeting at the EU Council building in Brussels, on March 5, 2014. (AFP PHOTO / THIERRY CHARLIER)

BRUSSELS: NATO is stepping up its cooperation with Ukraine but reviewing "an entire range" of cooperation with Russia, the secretary-general of the alliance, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, said Wednesday.

Speaking after talks with Moscow's ambassador to NATO, Rasmussen said "an entire range of NATO-Russia cooperation is under review", including the suspension of a joint mission involving the destruction of Syrian chemical weapons.

At the same time NATO will "intensify our partnership with Ukraine, and strengthen our cooperation to support democratic reforms".

The alliance will "step up" engagement with Ukraine's leaders, both civilian and military, and help boost its army, including with more joint training and exercises.

Rasmussen said the situation in Ukraine "presents serious implications for the security and stability" of the region and that Russia "continues to violate" Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity.

The 28-nation alliance in consequence will suspend its first joint mission with Russia, the maritime escort for the U.S. ship Cape Ray, which will neutralise Syria's chemical weapons.

The destruction of the weapons would go ahead nonetheless, he stresses.

NATO also decided to suspend staff-level civilian and military meetings with Russia "for now". 

"We have put the entire range of NATO- Russia cooperation under review. NATO Foreign Ministers will take decisions on this in early April.

"These steps send a clear message: Russia's actions have consequences."

But NATO was keeping the door open for political dialogue and was therefore ready to maintain meetings of ambassadors in the NATO- Russia Council, such as one that took place Wednesday, Rasmussen noted.

 

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