News / Europe

    Further Russian Intervention in Ukraine Would Be ‘Historic Mistake’ - NATO

    • People stand outside a closed McDonalds restaurant. The fast food restaurant chain announced this week that it is shuttering its three outlets in the Crimean peninsula over unspecified operations issues, Simferopol, Crimea, April 4, 2004.
    • People gather outside a currency exchange office in the Crimean city of Simferopol, April 4, 2014.
    • People stand in line as they wait to enter a branch of the Sberbank of Russia bank in the Crimean city of Simferopol, April 4, 2014.
    • Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatseniuk said during an interview with Reuters that the Kyiv government will stick to unpopular austerity measures "as the price of independence" as Russia steps up pressure on Ukraine to destabilize, Kyiv, April 3, 2014.
    • Ukraine's acting President Oleksandr Turchynov visits a military exhibition near the settlement of Desna in Chernigov region, Ukraine, April 2, 2014.
    • Ukrainian soldiers watch as an army medic helicopter flies above during a military exhibition near the settlement of Desna in Chernigov region, April 2, 2014.
    • People pass by barricades near the Dnipro Hotel in Kyiv, April 1, 2014.
    • Self-defense activists pass by the Dnipro Hotel in Kyiv, April 1, 2014.
    • Members of the Ukrainian far-right radical group Right Sector leave their headquarters in Dnipro Hotel as police special forces stand guard, Kyiv, April 1, 2014.
    • Commuters walk along railway lines next to Ukrainian tanks ready to depart from Crimea near Simferopol, March 31, 2014.
    • Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev visits Crimea to consider priorities for its economic development, Simferopol, March 31, 2014.
    • Ukrainians, in accordance with Orthodox Church tradition of marking the 40th day since death, remember those who lost their lives during pro-Europe protests in Kyiv, March 30, 2014. 
    Developments in Ukraine and the Crimean Peninsula
    VOA News
    Further Russian intervention in Ukraine, following its annexation of Crimea, would be a “historic mistake” that would deepen Russia's international isolation, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said on Wednesday.

    “If Russia were to intervene further in Ukraine, I wouldn't hesitate to call it an historic mistake. That would lead to further international isolation of Russia. It would have far reaching consequences for the relations between Russia and ... the Western world. It would be a miscalculation with huge strategic implications,” he told a news conference after a meeting of alliance foreign ministers.

    'Three to five days'

    Russia has massed all the forces it needs on Ukraine's border if it were to decide to carry out an “incursion” into the country and it could achieve its objective "in three to five days," NATO's top military commander said on Wednesday.

    “This is a very large and very capable and very ready force,” said NATO's supreme allied commander in Europe, U.S. Air Force General Philip Breedlove, referring to the presence of an estimated 40,000 Russian troops on Ukraine's border.

    Calling the situation “incredibly concerning”, Breedlove said NATO had spotted signs of movement by a very small part of the Russian force overnight but had no indication that it was returning to barracks.
    FILE - NATO's Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, U.S. Air Force General Philip Breedlove.FILE - NATO's Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, U.S. Air Force General Philip Breedlove.
    x
    FILE - NATO's Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, U.S. Air Force General Philip Breedlove.
    FILE - NATO's Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, U.S. Air Force General Philip Breedlove.


    Breedlove made his remarks an interview with Reuters and The Wall Street Journal.
     
    Russia's seizure and annexation of Ukraine's Crimea region has caused the deepest crisis in East-West relations since the Cold War, leading the United States and Europe to impose sanctions on Moscow. They have said they will strengthen those sanctions if Russia moves beyond Crimea.
     
    NATO military chiefs are concerned that the Russian troops on Ukraine's border could pose a threat to eastern and southern Ukraine.

    Breedlove said Russia could have several potential objectives, including an incursion into southern Ukraine to establish a land corridor to Crimea, pushing beyond Crimea to Ukraine's Black Sea port of Odessa or even threatening to connect to Transdniestria, the mainly Russian-speaking, separatist region of Moldova that lies to the west of Ukraine.
     
    Russia also has forces to the north and northeast of Ukraine that could enter eastern Ukraine if Moscow ordered them to do so, Breedlove said.

    Return to Cold War mode

    Russia is accusing NATO of slipping back into Cold War thinking by suspending cooperation with Russia over its seizure of Ukraine's Crimea region.
     
    Alliance foreign ministers are seen during a NATO-Ukraine commission meeting at NATO headquarters in Brussels April 1, 2014.Alliance foreign ministers are seen during a NATO-Ukraine commission meeting at NATO headquarters in Brussels April 1, 2014.
    x
    Alliance foreign ministers are seen during a NATO-Ukraine commission meeting at NATO headquarters in Brussels April 1, 2014.
    Alliance foreign ministers are seen during a NATO-Ukraine commission meeting at NATO headquarters in Brussels April 1, 2014.
    Russia is accusing NATO of reverting to Cold War rhetoric and tactics by suspending cooperation with Russia over its seizure of Ukraine's Crimea region.

    Russia's Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said in a statement Wednesday that NATO's language on the issue resembled "the verbal jousting of the Cold War era."

    NATO foreign ministers announced Tuesday during a summit on Ukraine taking place in Brussels that they would officially end all civilian and military cooperation with Russia.  They said they do not recognize its annexation of Ukraine's Crimean peninsula and urged Russia to immediately comply with international law.

    Diplomatic channels between NATO and Moscow remain open.

    Kerry-Lavrov call

    U.S. Secretary of State of State John Kerry discussed the crisis with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, in a brief telephone call this morning.

    According to a State Department official, Kerry used the call to convey the strong support he was hearing for the people of Ukraine and the legitimate government of Ukraine from his counterparts during the NATO meeting in Brussels.

    Kerry also reiterated the objective of de-escalating tensions in Ukraine, including through direct engagement between Ukrainian and Russian officials, and the return of Russian troops to their barracks, the official said.

    In related developments, the United States has temporarily suspended several projects planned under the auspices of the U.S.-Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission as well as some cooperative law enforcement activities, according to a release published on the U.S. State Department’s website.

    “Funding for these activities will instead be used to contribute to a package of U.S. assistance to Ukraine, following consultation with Congress, which will support economic reform and address other pressing needs, including combatting corruption and recovering stolen assets,” the release says.

    Latest from Yanukovych

    Meanwhile, ousted Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych says he was "wrong" to invite Russian troops into Ukraine's Crimean peninsula - a move that led to Moscow's annexation of the Black Sea territory.

    Yanukovych, who fled Kyiv in February after months of anti-government protests, spoke Wednesday, two weeks after Russia's parliament voted to make the peninsula a part of the Russian Federation.

    In his first interview since he sought refuge in Russia,  Yanukovych told the Associated Press and Russian NTV television that he will try to persuade Moscow to return the territory to Ukrainian control.

    His comments come just weeks after Moscow drew international rebuke for sending thousands of troops into Crimea.  He described Russia's subsequent annexation as "a tragedy, a major tragedy."

    Western analysts largely described the ex-president's statements as an apparent effort to salvage some support in Ukraine, where even his one-time political allies have abandoned him.

    The ex-president argued that the Russian takeover would not have occurred if he had remained in office.  He also denied widespread allegations of corruption from by pro-Western protesters who sought to drive him from power.

    VOA's Scott Stearns contributed to this story; some reporting by Reuters
     
     

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    Comments page of 3
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    by: leo from: usa
    April 03, 2014 8:42 PM
    Exactly!! And nuclear war will be bad for the whole world.While the usa swat them down like flies before they even hit.Stop trying act like Russia is tough,you said it right.Nuclear that's what they hide behind.Usa defense budget 600million china 160 million Russia 90 million what a laugh.
    In Response

    by: John Culley from: United States
    April 05, 2014 2:37 PM
    Putin is waiting until May to attack the rest of the Ukraine because if he attacks in April he has a 33% chance of encountering rasputitsa (General Mud) because of spring rains. He also appears to be having trouble getting cooperation from Belorussians and their fearless leader. If they attack Ukraine from the north they face the Prypyat Marsh geographical obstacle.

    by: Bob Forsberg from: southern California
    April 03, 2014 2:14 PM
    Many of us here in America hold our breath every time this current administration opens their mouth, fearing they will say something meaningful that might actually upset Russia and Putin instead of making them laugh. Please excuse Obama and Kerry for the noise they make. The people who voted them into office were illegal immigrants, children of illegal immigrants, low information voters and others suffering from white guilt who actually thought Obama would make them feel better about themselves

    by: Ivan Venke from: Yekaterinburg
    April 03, 2014 9:56 AM
    Why do you americans name peaceful 97% people's DEMOCRATIC will to JOIN, reunion Russia as annexion but don't concern about illegal armed coup in Kiew and don't even mention about USA's support of this NOT DEMOCRATIC revolution in Ukraine? Why americans ? I liked your great nation, but now I'm disappointed...
    In Response

    by: Jaroslav from: Australia
    April 08, 2014 8:32 AM
    Ivan it is because they are evil, servants of the beast.
    In Response

    by: Ivan from: Russia
    April 05, 2014 7:16 AM
    and ones again: "why you don't concern about illegal armed coup in Kiew and don't even mention about USA's support of this NOT DEMOCRATIC revolution in Ukraine? Why ?"
    In Response

    by: Ivan from: Yekaterinburg
    April 05, 2014 7:13 AM
    1. the parlament in Kiew is illegitimate, came to power by armed coup so Russia don't need their approval.
    2. The current governeur of Crimea ASKED Putin to help them and to protect native russians in there so it's not an invasion.
    3. There are russian naval bases so it isn't the invasion again, it's lawful presence in the area.
    4. Who asked them boycoted the vote? It's FREE country, they've done their will
    In Response

    by: Tom Murphy from: Northern Virginia
    April 04, 2014 9:08 PM
    The words I previously posted are excerpts from the US Declaration of Independence describing its break from England. The words of that document are very appropriate to describe the current situation in Ukraine.
    In Response

    by: Tom Murphy from: Northern Virginia
    April 04, 2014 8:01 PM
    A [leader], whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

    We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

    We, therefore,...by Authority of the good People of this [country], solemnly publish and declare, That this united [country is], and of Right ought to be a Free and Independent State
    In Response

    by: Rose Bonnefoy
    April 03, 2014 7:04 PM
    Exactly. Now you know how I feel about Americans. It was once a splendid country but now It's just... An absent-minded country.
    In Response

    by: Kelley from: USA
    April 03, 2014 1:43 PM
    This nation was born by way of a revolution against the mother country because we felt we were not being represented, i.e. we were not being heard and our hopes and beliefs ignored. The Ukrainians revolted because so many felt their aspirations to live in a free and prosperous country were being crushed by being dragged away from the west and toward Russia. I suppose all revolutions are illegal from the standpoint of someone that does not approve. Nevertheless people will take only so much and then revolt.

    As far as the 97% of those in Crimea approving joining Russia, there are some serious doubts about the percentage, in addition many people boycotted the vote, and in addition to that it is considered inappropriate for a foreign country (Russia) to invade another (Ukraine) to assist in an election. It should be obvious that that is a form of intimidation that uses the barrel of a gun to direct people in their voting. In addition Crimea is not allowed to secede from Ukraine without the approval of the parliament of Ukraine. Texas cannot secede from the United States without the consent of the people of the USA.

    by: Abysnia from: Ethiopia
    April 03, 2014 9:18 AM
    Who make USA the Boss to this World,You have well equipped solders but with small countries like Somalia and decades Afghanistan fighting with small groups or decades....Really SHAME ON YOUR DEVIL BAPHOMET.You are shuting for your own strategic location 'Cremea' not fo the people of Ukraine...It would be bad for you if all the Russian federation unite again

    by: Terry from: Anonymous America
    April 03, 2014 6:19 AM
    Well while I see this has another Putin spit into the wind in would almost seem planned as if the two presidents were very much in talks just to see how far they could go the annexation or invasion any independent Country should be considered an act of war and we as Americans and NATO with Allies intact should end it. 5 thousand troops and watch what Iran does if I'm not mistaken I believe this is a coy dog or prelude end Putin uprising he's under the impression his best chance to gather allies and make moves and mobilize now because President Obama is less than qualified to handle such strategic or even foreign affairs
    In Response

    by: Plain Mirror Intl from: Plain Planet - Africa
    April 03, 2014 9:23 AM
    Well, do not consider Russia move over Crimea as a result of Obama's weakness stratagically. Obama has his own approach to issues diplomatically. The US lives in regrets of Obama's predicessors' brutality and undue bullying policies. So, Obama doesn't want to tow the same line of action. The world changes by experimentation. If Obama's approach fails to yield a peacefull and more democratic changes, then shall we underscore him. But for now, Obama is not weak, but he is changing the course of repeated wars and brutality by former US presidents. Secondly, Putin should see this a piece of advice and reminder, that he is dealing with the EU gang stars, the NATO.

    Thirdly, to the US and NATO, they should bear it in mind that for as much as Russia has made that historic move of annexing Crimea without a single gun short, then there is still broad room for a peaceful negotiated end to this crisis. And any thing contrary to it that would come in the form of armed confrontantion, the Ukrainians would receive a very hard and unpleasant end. If you love Ukraine, follow Russia with diplomacy. No much damage has been done yet! Peace is still wispering by the corner.

    Then for the ousted President Viktor, he has big question to answer, and a big role to play in resolving this crisis. For him to admit that his move was wrong, then he has a big blame on his shoulders. As a president, he shouldn't have been so much emotional to initiate a call for intervention which he knows that Russia would honour based on the fact that e was the duely elected President and also knowing it for the fact that ethnic Russians made up the Crimea peninsula, Russia wouldn't saty back and watch them perish for as much as a formal invitation was received from him the president. He has a role to play here to solve the crisis or he would to be like the bat if eventually Russia finds ground not to forgive him and the Ukrainian people also finds no grounds to forgive him either. God bless Russia, Ukraine and the world economic powers!

    by: Kelley from: USA
    April 03, 2014 12:24 AM
    The wisest thing that we the USA in conjunction with NATO could do is to provide a credible deterrent. We should tell the Russians that if they move into Ukraine and Ukraine stands and fights, then we will support Ukraine with air power sufficient to establish air superiority over Ukraine. Without air cover, armored columns cannot move.
    In Response

    by: Kelley from: USA
    April 03, 2014 1:30 PM
    I meant to add: Deterrence makes peace.
    In Response

    by: Mazo from: India
    April 03, 2014 1:17 PM
    Actually, that is FAR from wise to make such proclamations because Russia WILL call your bluff and both Moscow and Washington DC realize that in Ukraine NATO cannot sustain air superiority before Russia anti-air defenses and fighter support.
    You labor under the delusion that somehow the USA is "all-powerful" and that you can threaten Russia in its back yard but you forget that Russia have over 2000 fighter aircraft and some of the most sophisticated anti-air defenses in the world that reach far into Europe. Russian aircraft can maintain air superiority over Ukraine from the bulk of Russian air bases in Western Russia and Crimea without trouble where as NATO has no airbases in Ukraine and can't enforce any "air superiority" vis-a-vis Russia in their backyard.

    Ukraine can stand and fight - they will lose, but they can stand and fight if they want. NATO, without extensive US support would have a hard time dealing with Russian belligerence should Russia try to up the stakes. And even if NATO does use military force against Russia, NATO will face massive losses in any confrontation.

    Putin is not some Arab tyrant and Russia is not some Middle Eastern republic to be intimidated by F16s and F15s. For every 1 fighter the USA can deploy in Eastern Europe, Russia can deploy 10 with ease.
    In Response

    by: Ivan from: Yekaterinburg
    April 03, 2014 11:27 AM
    Thank you for reasonable words. Gods blessing - that 's all we need especially now - in the time of Great Lent both in Russia and Ukraine which are sisters and comprise The Saint Russ.

    by: matt from: vermont
    April 02, 2014 10:00 PM
    I would agree with you lola

    by: Toto from: Logic Earth
    April 02, 2014 9:43 PM
    I used to believe that among the smartest people on Earth the European were #1. However, I now see I was wrong. The EU has no personality, or attitude of their own. Everything is borrow from the USA. Now, I consider the EU as the biggest idiots of the planet. what a change... a 360 degree turn.
    In Response

    by: James from: Chicago
    April 03, 2014 9:36 AM
    I think you meant a 180 degree tun. 360 would put you back to where you started.

    by: lola from: lolaville
    April 02, 2014 8:24 PM
    someone should do to Putin what was done to Osama
    In Response

    by: matt from: vermont
    April 02, 2014 9:51 PM
    I would agree with you on that lola

    by: Dan from: USA
    April 02, 2014 8:19 PM
    Nato should stop beating around the bush with Putin. Put NATO TROOP all along Eastern Ukraine Boarder. Putin ONLY understands Force. Russia's cannot withstand ANY economic collapses, and although Europe might suffer a bit for one Month or two, they can manage much better than Russia can.
    In Response

    by: Tom Murphy from: Northern Virginia
    April 04, 2014 8:49 PM
    The great and glorious Russia had its butt kicked by the Afghan Mujahadeen and went home with its tail between its legs. The Ukrainian forces need to fight like the Afghan Mujahadeen with anti-tank weapons and anti-aircraft missiles.
    In Response

    by: Mazo from: India
    April 03, 2014 1:27 PM
    Typical american response. Too many Americans living behind their computer screens show bravery on the internet because USA has prevailed against one or two middle eastern arab dictators. Even in Afghanistan they are ready to tuck their tails and run but they want to challenge Russia on its border ?

    Russians are not like Taliban or the Arab rabble who are impressed by your "Shock and awe" or drone warfare. If NATO deploys in Eastern Ukraine, it won't live to regret its decision. European soldiers are like barbie dolls, they haven't the ability or the fortitude to protect even their own home nations - Ukraine is a different matter all together.

    Trying to display your bravado with Russia is a game Russia knows how to play well. Send your troops to Eastern Ukraine and NATO will learn why Soviet Troops were the first to reach Berlin - not American or European.
    In Response

    by: Ade from: Nigeria
    April 03, 2014 11:11 AM
    I hope you know that you are dealing with Russia not Iraq, not Iran not Afghanistan. You want to go and face the world most powerful nuclear power with force. You will be consumed if you try it. Diplomacy appears to be the only option feasible except the entire world will be in trouble.
    In Response

    by: jayc from: aust
    April 03, 2014 5:13 AM
    your very misguided arent you america isnt well liked even by english speaking nations of the people...your armed forces kill women and children all over the globe..as they say every empire falls and its americas time ..when they meet russian soldiers on the ground ..america is a sad dirty place to live and corrupted by all sorts at every street corner....i su pport russia
    In Response

    by: Igor from: Russia
    April 03, 2014 12:21 AM
    It is fortunate that your president is not as crazy and stupid as you are. Otherwise, There would be a nuclear war and your country will become a dead desert. Do bear in mind that Russia is a superpower with deadly nuclear weapons ready to attack you land, air or sea. If you go on with your sactions, you will face a nuclear war, that's all!
    In Response

    by: meanbill from: USA
    April 02, 2014 10:40 PM
    TRUTH BE TOLD.... You did say; "put NATO troops along the eastern Ukraine border to protect the Ukrainians from the Russians" didn't you? --- REALLY, it's a fact the US wouldn't put US troops along that eastern Ukraine border, (against Russia), without the other 27 NATO countries supporting them, with military weapons, troops, and supplies, would they? --- REALLY, the US hasn't fought any wars without NATO support, (and would never fight a war without them), and they still haven't won a war since WW2, when they and allies defeated NAZI Germany.... (Like a bunch of schoolyard bullies, attacking a handicapped child?).. ..... REALLY?
    In Response

    by: Anonymous
    April 02, 2014 9:56 PM
    Correct hence the reason Putin has his bloody hands in Syria. He is a criminal allowing genocide to happen day after day. Majority of the atrocities in Syria were provided by Russian Government.
    Comments page of 3
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