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NATO suspends cooperation with Russia -- Rasmussen

NATO terminates cooperation with Russia, set to strengthen collective defense of the military alliance's member states and will expand its level of cooperation with Ukraine, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said on Thursday.

"We suspend our practical cooperation with Russia in all areas," he declared.

Also, he remarked that NATO was working "more closely with Ukraine to reform its armed forces and defense institutions."

NATO Secretary General said that if Russia conitnues to destabilise the situation in Ukraine, more sanctions will follow.

"I have no doubt the international community will respond with tougher sanctions if Russia continues to intervene further," Rasmussen told reporters in Ukraine's capital Kiev.

He urged Russia "to engage in a sincere dialogue for a peaceful solution" of the Ukrainian crisis.

Earlier in the day, at a meeting with Ukrainian Verkhovna Rada speaker Oleksander Turchynov, Rasmussen said that NATO was suspending cooperation with Russia and enhancing the collective defence for the protection of all NATO members and made a decision to raise the level of support and cooperation with Ukraine, the parliamentary press-service said.

Also, the parliamentary press-service quoted Rasmussen as saying the Ukraine-NATO summit, due in Wales in September would allow for taking more concrete steps in establishing productive cooperation by the two parties.

Rasmussen believes that Ukraine needs comprehensive reforms, in particular, those in the military sphere, and the country's parliament should play an important role for achieving this goal.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko decorated Rasmussen with the Order of Liberty - the country's highest award for foreign nationals.

"For many years you have been Ukraine's friend," he said and voiced the hope that Ukraine's cooperation with NATO was a pre-requisite for Ukrainian reforms and the country's territorial integrity.

Russia's reaction

The Federation Council (upper house of Russia's parliament) sees no big damage from NATO's decision to suspend cooperation with Moscow.

"Cooperation between Russia and NATO was more noticeable on paper. And, speaking of cooperation with Russia, NATO was just building its good image," Viktor Ozerov, head of the Federation Council Security Committee, said.

"Under the Rome Declaration, it was intended that Russia and NATO would jointly assess the situation, make decisions, act together and share responsibility for these actions. But this never happened," he said.

Ozerov compared cooperation between Russia and NATO with a bad marriage whereby the spouses maintain only a formal relationship. "This institute did not work even once after the Libyan or South Ossetian crisis," he said.

"Going back to my comparison with the marriage, there is no property to divide," he added.

[Source: Itar Tass, Kiev, 07Aug14]

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