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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.
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.
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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by: Scoop Hendetso. from: USSA
April 02, 2014 7:58 PM
Since the bloody coup is accepted by USSA, what say we do a bloodless one here?
In Response

by: Tom Murphy from: Northern Virginia
April 04, 2014 8:54 PM
We now know that the Russian FSB sent agents to Kiev to shoot down defenseless people in the central Kiev square with sniper rifles. Even the deposed corrupt ex-president of Ukraine said that he regretted calling on Russia for help.

by: Not Again from: Canada
April 02, 2014 4:35 PM
It is not a good situation, but Ukraine has enogh defensive weapons to put a strong opposition to a Russian incursion; it needs to organize its people to resist. Other nations have faced very bad odds, and did resist invasions by expansionist dictatorial fanatical empires. Ukr has enough trained personnel, to enable itself to stand up lower level formations, and do a great deal of damage to an intruding force. The situation for the defence will be far more difficult, to establish strong points/sever lines of communication, once the land dries up at the end of the Spring. Ukr will need better air defence, manportable sytems, and it will also need better anti-armour man-portable systems. Only a credible deployment of defensive units, in hardened positions, will lessen the chances of a confrontation, wishful thinking is not a deterrent, as some misguided grandstanding political elites would believe it to be.

by: kafantaris from: Warren, Ohio
April 02, 2014 2:48 PM
Crimea actually exposed the futility of Russia's military might -- as well as the futility of NATO's defensive might.
The world has gotten smaller and smarter, but these old military machines refuse to take notice.
Why should they?
It will only hasten their irrelevancy in today's interconnected and interdependent world.

by: Hillary Clinton from: D.C.
April 02, 2014 11:15 AM
This is just a diversion some REAL journalism, VOA.
In Response

by: sendagala edmon from: kampala
April 02, 2014 5:13 PM
Whenever international politics seems to exposure the so-long feared hegemonial dominance of the US that it no longer exists, you cannot just ignore the panic in our american friends. Everything will be termed diversionary;however, who in this world does more 'decoy journalism' than americans. Dear all, the world has moved on from a unipolar to a decentralised multi-polar society-Every Man forHimself,God for Us All
In Response

by: meanbill from: USA
April 02, 2014 12:13 PM
IN YOUR OWN WORDS? ... "What difference does it make?" if (you) like, or approve their reporting or not? .. (At least they're not in a coma, like you were in Benghazi), were they? ...... REALLY

by: Sunny Enwerem from: Lagos Nigeria
April 02, 2014 10:43 AM
Russia is accusing NATO of slipping back into Cold War thinking by suspending cooperation with Russia over its seizure of Ukraine's Crimea region.?????? Is this not funny?? Russia accusing NATO cold war THINKING while they ACT like in the cold war era ! Its best Russians start feeling the heat of their action in crimea but denying Russians visa to any democratic nation as a sign to protest till they vote the dictator out of office.

by: Robert E from: USA
April 02, 2014 10:01 AM
Give the poor baby a crying towel. The troops are on Russian soil and obviously is causing great concern. Why not?

by: meanbill from: USA
April 02, 2014 9:51 AM
AN UNDENIABLE FACT? .... The Russian (invasion) and conquering of Crimea with a bunch of little green men, (who never fired a shot), will go down in history as one of the top military victories of all time.... Historians will be analyzing Putin's Crimea military war victory, (on how he did it, without firing a shot), a feat never accomplished in history, FOREVER?
In Response

by: E2West from: Pheonix
April 02, 2014 11:17 PM
#Tom Murphy. Catch up Tom, other information suggests the 100 Ukrainians killed were mostly killed by agitators sponsored by the West; this was in response to the Ukraine moving towards closer ties with Russian. Russia's actions/responses seem to be in response to the more subtle encroachments of the West towards Russian territory. Consider the the reaction that would come from the US if the Russian's sponsored agitators in Canada and Mexico to oust the elected government and then install a government that was pro-Russian; the US would label them all terrorists, send in the drones and kill a couple of thousand civilian bystanders. NATO expects the Russian troops to go back to barracks whilst they (with additional US equipment) bolster NATO forces on the other side of the Ukraine… this is exactly the kind of response that will keep and then send Russia over the border into the Ukraine. Remember also that the Crimeans voted on mass to leave the Ukraine so what right does the EU & US have to tell a significantly sized group of people who had a free vote that they won't acknowledge their vote to self-determine the country that that want to align with.
In Response

by: Tom Murphy from: Northern Virginia
April 02, 2014 12:53 PM
What about the end of Russian rule in Poland, Romania, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, East Germany, Bulgaria, Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania?? These were not bloody revolutions. Yet 100 Ukrainian people were killed in Kiev and thousands injured in the attempt to save Russia's domination of Ukraine. Many shots were fired in the takeover of Ukrainian military bases and Ukrainian protestors have been beaten to death outside of Kiev.

by: Che Guevara from: India
April 02, 2014 9:46 AM
Play your Western games on some other nations, but not Moscow. US scumbags.
In Response

by: Anonymous
April 02, 2014 9:57 PM
Because what Putin did was an international crime, an arrest warrant should be issued for Putin, no exceptions.
In Response

by: Scott from: Arlington VA
April 02, 2014 3:26 PM
That's an amazing statement from a country where it's ok to treat its own citizens like dirt and let them live in horrid conditions. You've got your own problems to solve...get busy!
In Response

by: Tom Murphy from: Northern Virginia
April 02, 2014 12:42 PM
What will Moscow do with the tens of thousands of Russians who marched in Moscow in protest against Putin's actions in Ukraine?? Will Putin put them all in Lubyanka prison?? Will they be shot and buried in Gorky Park as was done in the past??

A growing number of Russian people want no part of the dictatorial actions of Russia's leader-for-life.

by: Tom Murphy from: Northern Virginia
April 02, 2014 9:30 AM
NATO nations should transfer man-portable anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles to Ukraine, Romania, Moldova and Bulgaria as soon as possible with Ukraine as the highest priority.
In Response

by: Tom Murphy from: Northern Virginia
April 02, 2014 10:04 PM
To: peter bonfil
You must believe that Russia has magic weapons. Russian-built tanks have been destroyed in large numbers in Iraq and Afghanistan. Mujahadeen shot down Russian aircraft on a regular basis in Afghanistan. Since then, shoulder fired weapons built in Europe have advanced tremendously.
In Response

by: peter bonfil from: australia
April 02, 2014 7:09 PM
What are anti tank weapons going to do against Russians who have latest Arena anti tank systems,and latest anti aircraft s300 systems.
In Response

by: Tom Murphy from: Northern Virginia
April 02, 2014 4:23 PM
To: meanbill
Are you talking about the death toll of innocent civilians in Syria due to the artillery shelling by the Assad regime??
Are you talking about the depopulation of Asians in Siberia by expansionist colonial Russia in its drive to the Bering Straits???
Are you talking about the many deportations of ethnic minorities like the Tatars and Chechens??
Are you talking about the "Red Terrors" conducted by Vladimir Lenin against Russians during the early days of his rule??
Are you talking about the "killing fields" of Cambodia's Communist Khmer Rouge and Pol Pot??
In Response

by: meanbill from: USA
April 02, 2014 12:23 PM
Wherever NATO goes, death and destruction follows, and continues on long after they have gone, (never winning the war, but leaving the countries in ruins), after killing more innocent people than the bad guys did).... AND wherever NATO went, the innocents are still dying from their interference.

by: Robert Abbasi from: Ca
April 02, 2014 9:27 AM
Thanks to Obama's weekness and his administration .
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