Terrorist NATO chief Rasmussen hypocrisy as he claims Russia is destabilizing Ukraine
Nato chief calls on Russia to stop destabilising Ukraine
Anders Fogh Rasmussen says Russia should ‘stop being part of the problem and start being part of the solution’
Rowena Mason, political correspondent, Paul Lewis in Washington and Alec Luhn in Donetsk
theguardian.com, Tuesday 15 April 2014 12.27 BST
The Nato chief, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, has joined the US and UK in issuing an urgent public call on Russia to de-escalate tensions in the Ukraine, as pro-Russia separatists remained in control of government buildings in the country’s east.
“I call on Russia to de-escalate the crisis, to pull back its troops … to stop destabilising the situation and make clear it does not support the violent actions of pro-Russian separatists,” Rasmussen said at a briefing of EU defence ministers. “Russia should stop being part of the problem and start being part of the solution.”
He stressed that military action was not yet an option, but the UK and US have threatened Moscow with further sanctions unless they act to bring the Ukraine crisis under control.
The British foreign secretary, William Hague, warned Russia it faced being frozen out by the west for years if it did not stop destabilising Ukraine. He said London was prepared to take a financial hit from sanctions affecting business relations.
It followed a tense telephone call between Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin on Monday night in which the US president told his Russian counterpart that Moscow would face costs for its actions in Ukraine and should use its influence to get separatists in the country to stand down. The US has also deployed additional fighter aircraft to the Baltic states and Poland.
The German foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, added to the calls when he said on Tuesday that Russia should distance itself “from the violent and unlawful actions of pro-Russian demonstrators”.
Pro-Russian protesters cemented their control of administrative buildings in at least nine cities in the east of Ukraine on Monday, refusing to abide by an order from the central government in Kiev to leave or face being forced out by an “anti-terrorist operation”.
Early on Tuesday, separatists voluntarily surrendered the police headquarters in Kramatorsk that had been stormed by armed militants on Saturday, Ukrainian police said.
But protesters still controlled a string of buildings across the region, despite another central government announcement that it was acting to restore order in the restive region. The Associated Press reported that Ukrainian tanks were spotted on the move within 70km (43 miles) of one city controlled by pro-Moscow gunmen.
Hague said it defied common sense for Putin to deny that the storming of government buildings in eastern Ukraine had been carried out by Russians.
After the “frank” phone call between Putin and Obama, Hague said Russia had to “decide whether it wants diplomacy and de-escalation or a long-term deterioration in relations with much of the rest of the world, which will have a serious effect on the Russian economy”.
He said on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme there was no defined red line that would force the Ukrainian government to fight back, but the west would “know it when we see it”.
“Because Russian activities and Russia’s destabilisation of Ukraine has taken so many different forms I don’t think we can set a fixed red line … but they should take note of this: that yesterday we pressed – and indeed the European commission assured us – that these measures are ready, that they are in the final stages of preparation.”
Hague said sanctions against senior Russian officials would require “sacrifices”, including by London’s financial sector, but defended the decision not to put sanctions on Putin himself, saying it was “important to keep diplomacy as a possibility”.
Obama told Putin on Monday that the US preferred a diplomatic solution to the crisis but criticised Russia for taking actions that were not “conducive” to such a path.
He said Kiev had made “real offers” to address concerns about the decentralisation of powers to local governments in the country, a senior US government official said. The “frank and direct” call came at the request of the Russians, he said.
In a sign of rising tensions, the Pentagon said on Monday that a Russian military fighter flew past a navy destroyer in the Black Sea 12 times over the weekend in a “provocative and unprofessional” move.
The unarmed fighter Su-24 aircraft, or Fencer, made 12 low-altitude passes of the USS Donald Cook on Saturday, coming within 1,000 yards of the vessel, according to the Pentagon. The incident lasted around 90 minutes and a Pentagon source said the USS Donald Cook “was never under threat” and was “more than capable of defending herself”.