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NATO Official Urges Russia to De-escalate Tensions in Ukraine

By Staff Writer
United States Department of Defense

March 2, 2014 - NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen today urged Russia to de-escalate tensions in Ukraine, according 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 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 ethnic-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.

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