News / Europe

NATO Chief to Russia: Pull Troops From Ukraine

NATO Pledges More Support for Ukrainei
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Al Pessin
September 04, 2014 10:13 PM
NATO leaders increased defense cooperation with Ukraine at their summit in Britain Thursday, pledging more help on security and governmental reforms, but not lethal military aid. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from the conference site in Newport, Wales.
Related video report by Al Pessin
VOA News

U.S. officials say Russia faces new sanctions for continuing to support rebels fighting government forces in Ukraine. The crisis has been the center of discussions at a NATO summit in Wales, as President Barack Obama and other leaders prepare Friday to announce their next step in dealing with Russia.

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen on Thursday accused Moscow outright of attacking Ukraine and told the Kremlin to pull back Russian troops from Ukraine and to stop supporting rebels in eastern Ukraine.

“We call on Russia to end its illegal and self-declared annexation of Crimea,” he said at a meeting with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko at the NATO summit near the Welsh city of Newport.

NATO Summit in Newport, WalesNATO Summit in Newport, Wales
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NATO Summit in Newport, Wales
NATO Summit in Newport, Wales

“We call on Russia to pull back its troops from Ukraine and to stop the flow of arms, fighters and funds to the separatists,” Rasmussen said. “We call on Russia to step back from confrontation and take the path of peace.”  

Earlier Thursday, the NATO chief had dismissed Russian President Vladimir Putin’s seven-step plan to end the fighting in eastern Ukraine, deriding Putin’s approach as a “so-called peace plan.” 

Rasmussen said what counts is what is happening on the ground in eastern Ukraine, where the West says Russian troops are fighting with separatists against the Ukrainian military, a charge Russia denies.

NATO estimates there are at least 1,000 Russian troops in Ukraine.

  • U.S. President Barack Obama, third from left, and British Prime Minister David Cameron, fourth from left, listen to NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, third from right, as they participate in NATO Summit Session One, on Afghanistan and the Isla
  • French President Francois Hollande, Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko, U.S. President Barack Obama, British Prime Minister David Cameron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi meet on the situation in Ukraine.
  • NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen speaks to the media at the Celtic Manor resort, near Newport, in Wales, Sept. 4, 2014.
  • Military personnel wait outside as leaders from the U.S., France, Italy, Germany, the United Kingdom and Ukraine participate in a meeting on the situation in Ukraine at the NATO Summit at the Celtic Manor Resort in Newport, Wales, Sept. 4, 2014.
  • U.S. President Barack Obama joins British Prime Minister David Cameron during a visit to Mount Pleasant Primary School in Newport, Wales, Sept. 4, 2014.
  • A crowd waits outside the Mount Pleasant Primary School, where U.S. President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron visit with school children. Newport, Wales, Sept. 4, 2014.
  • An armed police officer stands in the grounds of the Celtic Manor resort, near Newport, in Wales Sept. 4, 2014.
  • Flowers and a message placed at the cenotaph in Newport, Wales Sept. 4, 2014.
  • A soldier carries a case as the sun rises over the golf course at the Celtic Manor resort, near Newport, in Wales, Sept. 4, 2014.

The West has ruled out military intervention in Ukraine, which is an alliance partner of NATO, not a full member that other NATO countries would be obligated to defend. Rasmussen said it is up to individual countries to decide whether to provide any form of military aid to Kyiv.

As the meeting opened, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov sternly warned that any Ukraine move to join NATO would "derail efforts" toward a cease-fire.

Western nations have already imposed wide economic sanctions on Russia and say they are considering other measures.

Crises on agenda

Rasmussen's comments stepped up Western rhetoric against Moscow and set the tone for a two-day meeting marked by a return to east-west confrontation 25 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

NATO members are meeting at a golf resort outside the town of Newport, Wales.

U.S. President Barack Obama and his 27 allies plan to discuss how to tackle the Islamic State group that has claimed territory in Iraq and Syria and has emerged as a new threat on the alliance's southern flank, as well as how to stabilize Afghanistan when NATO forces leave at year's end.

After the leaders met with Ukrainian Poroshenko Rasmussen said the alliance would make a joint declaration on the crisis, and agree on what he called “concrete steps” to enhance their cooperation with Ukraine.

NATO is also planning to create a rapid-reaction force to enhance its military presence in member states close to Russia, and to deter, and if necessary respond to, any Russian military moves in those areas.

Russia, which has strongly opposed any NATO presence near its borders, has denounced the idea of a rapid response unit. Earlier this week, Russia said it will review its own military strategies in eastern Europe if NATO endorses creation of the force.

Afghanistan

The NATO leaders also conferred about Afghanistan, where their combat mission will end in December and they hope to launch an advisory and training mission next year. 

Rasmussen said NATO is ready for the final stage of the transition of its mission from combat to a training and advisory role, as planned. But he said that cannot happen unless the new Afghan president signs agreements on the status of foreign forces in the country.

However, the alliance is waiting for the results of the disputed Afghan presidential election to get the agreement signed.

Afghanistan's rival presidential candidates, Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah, sent a message to NATO leaders on Thursday saying that they will do their utmost to reach a political agreement that would end a crisis over disputed elections.

Rasmussen’s comments followed a three-hour meeting about Afghanistan by NATO leaders and officials from 27 other countries that have troops in the country or provide various types of assistance.

The leaders formalized plans for continuing financial assistance for Afghanistan and in further building its security forces.  

Rasmussen described this as a “crucial summit at a crucial time,” and one of the most important in the alliance’s history.

Islamic State group

Rasmussen said he believes the broader international community "has an obligation to stop Islamic State fighters from advancing further," but noted that the alliance hasn't received any request for help.

"I'm sure that if the Iraqi government were to forward a request for NATO assistance, that would be considered seriously by NATO allies," Rasmussen said.

The Islamic State militants have claimed responsibility for murdering two American journalists, releasing gruesome videos of their beheadings. Both the U.S. and Britain are deeply concerned about the potential threat to their homelands that could come from the foreign fighters who have joined the violent Islamic State group.

The U.S. began launching airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Iraq last month, and both the U.S. and Britain have been making humanitarian aid drops to besieged minority groups there.

Cameron said that he hadn't ruled out joining the U.S. in airstrikes, but added that the priority was to support those already fighting the militants on the ground.

"We need to show real resolve and determination, we need to use every power and everything in our armory with our allies - with those on the ground - to make sure we do everything we can to squeeze this dreadful organization out of existence,'' Cameron told the British network ITV.

The summit continues Friday with the focus on the security of NATO members that border Russia.  
 
But former British official Nick Witney, now at the European Council on Foreign Relations, told VOA such moves may be important but don’t directly address Russia’s actions in Ukraine.

“There is a certain amount of displacement activity, if you like, in worrying about how we can improve the defense of the Baltics and Poland and so on, when frankly there is not a serious Russian threat to those countries,” he said.

Al Pessin contributed to this report from London. Some material for this report came from Reuters and AP.

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Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Xaaji Dhagax from: Somalia
September 04, 2014 11:36 PM
If NATO has ruled out military intervention in Ukraine, ..... I could not see any point of imposing never-ending modified sanctions against Russia. Economic sanctions alone will never force "LION" Putin to his knees. Good luck, NATO!

by: Clair from: Brazil
September 04, 2014 9:29 PM
Rasmussen is no good people, he is sick. The warmonger is looking for a Tonkin Gulf incident. A war with Russia is not a war with Libya, sure will be worst. Vietnam is a heaven, if you compare. Are you ready to receive lots of corps in coffins?

by: Anonymous from: Russia
September 04, 2014 12:36 PM
Thanks for money you gave us to increase our military power to destroy EU or even USA)
In Response

by: Wolfe from: buffalo
September 04, 2014 9:36 PM
Your welcome anon.

by: Petro from: Russia
September 04, 2014 10:10 AM
Look, Russia all the time is aggressor. Russia has tens of wars in last century. Ukraine had none. Who still thinks that Ukraine could fight against their people? this is nonsense. This is Russian aggression against Ukraine as Russia always does.
In Response

by: Michael from: S-Pb
September 05, 2014 12:39 AM
Petro and you have a problem with the story, there was no Ukraine until 1918. Poland, Russian Empire and Austria-Hungary. The non-existent state of course, though there was no war. The Russian Empire was at war less than other countries in Europe. Go to the school.

by: Max from: Ukraine
September 04, 2014 9:12 AM
Ukraine had never had a war. War is only Russian initiative. Forever.

Remember Russian aggression -
Ukraine 1920, Finland, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania 1920th, China 1930th, Japan 1930th, Finland 1940, Korea 1950, Czechoslovakia 1968, Israel 1970, Afghanistan 1980th, Moldova 1992, Chechnya-I 1994, Chechnya-II 2000th, Georgia 2008, Ukraine 2014.

And again, there has been no one Ukrainian aggression for hundreds of years.
In Response

by: Michael from: S-Pb
September 05, 2014 12:34 AM
You have a problem with historical scholarship. What Ukraine in 1920? Maybe it was Poland? In 1930 Japan invaded the Soviet Union itself. All that happened from 1940 to 1991 - Ukraine was part of the Soviet Union, and so the same prichasna to these events. Moreover Khrushchev - were ethnic Ukrainians, as Brezhnev. And Chechnya, you somehow forgot to mention Ukrainian mercenaries involved in terrorist acts, such as Beslan. Apparently you were taught history together with President of the USA, have those same "deep" knowledge. Or as usual to wishful thinking.

by: meanbill from: USA
September 04, 2014 8:41 AM
In case nobody noticed it... Russian leader Putin was the "only" leader out of all the countries involved that submitted any type of plan to end the fighting and negotiate a settlement between Ukraine and the Ukraine separatists?..Truth be told.. the US, EU, and NATO countries only made accusations with fabricated evidence, falsified reports and fuzzy pictures, (and never at anytime), presented any type (proof that's stand up in a court of law), or any type of a plan, to end the fighting or trying to unite Ukraine with any type of negotiations?.... IF Ukraine never had attacked the separatists, this Ukraine crisis would never had happened, (and war cannot solve this Ukraine conflict), and the US, EU, and NATO still haven't any plans to end it.... just like the al-Baghdadi (ISIL) terrorist beheading, (they still haven't a plan?).
In Response

by: Alexa from: US
September 05, 2014 4:03 PM
The Kissinger-Putin plan that Putin is proposing has rewarded Putin for land-grab in Ukraine, and has put Ukraine in a Moldova type of situation, without hope of getting rid of Putin, the bully. Funny, we don't hear much about that secretly hatched plan, I might add, without the participation of Ukraine.

by: NATO Chief Dismisses from: Putin's Ukraine Plan
September 04, 2014 7:51 AM
Can NATO Chief suggest and fulfil his own Ukraine Plan? It is easy to wag his tongue, to criticise Putin and do nothing useful.

by: Anonymous
September 04, 2014 7:24 AM
Don't believe Putin. Don't pay billions dollars to Russia for gas

by: Michael from: S-Pb
September 04, 2014 7:06 AM
Apparently NATO benefit from war in the Ukraine. Again, the stories about the "mythical" forces in Russia, which has not been seen, and can not be photographed.
In Response

by: Alexa from: US
September 05, 2014 6:26 PM
Keep up...Russia TV channel 1, has now run a story about a Russian soldier who died fighting in Ukraine...
Putin will have you believe that these soldiers are fighting while on vacation as volunteers who come prepared with their own tanks and uzies.
The soldier was buried with military honors with family present. Unlike the others who have been thrown into unmarked graves.
The tragedy is that Putin's "Little Green Men" are not given a choice, they are forced into deadly combat by those in charge of them.

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