NATO Says It Doesn’t Want Confrontation With Russia, But Ready To Accept Ukraine Into Bloc

By @ibtimesau on
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaks at the Alliance's headquarters during a NATO foreign ministers meeting in Brussels December 2, 2014. Stoltenberg accused Russia late on Monday of violating a ceasefire agreement in eastern Ukraine by sen
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaks at the Alliance's headquarters during a NATO foreign ministers meeting in Brussels December 2, 2014. Stoltenberg accused Russia late on Monday of violating a ceasefire agreement in eastern Ukraine by sending large deliveries of advanced weapons to pro-Russian separatists. Reuters/Yves Herman

Jens Stoltenberg, chief of the global alliance NATO, called on Russia on Wednesday to stop supporting the rebels in Russia, saying it doesn't want any confrontation, military or otherwise, with President Vladimir Putin's bailiwick. He urged on Russia to respect the Minsk agreements, even as he stressed NATO is ready to accept Ukraine provided the latter presents suitable justifications for its membership into the bloc.

Stoltenberg wants Russia "to use all its influence on the separatists to make them respect the ceasefire and to withdraw the support for the separatists." Russia got embroiled in the messy Ukraine situation on allegations it is supporting and funding the military requirements of the rebels in the country. In December, Russia alleged NATO is using Ukraine as a "frontline of confrontation." Ukraine borders Russia. Ukraine's membership into NATO sends panic alarms to Russia, which is highly protective of its independence from the western-influenced bloc.

"NATO does not seek confrontation with Russia. NATO aspires for a more constructive and cooperative relationship with Russia," Stoltenberg said. But such relations cannot be established unless Russia wants it as well, he said.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel likewise said on Wednesday what NATO seeks is political cooperation with Russia. As far as the bloc's security policy in Europe is concerned, she said such isn't targeted against Moscow. Russia had earlier vowed that Ukraine's acceptance into NATO will trigger an appropriate response, something that will be "practically impossible to repair," according to Russian Deputy Defence Minister Anatoly Antonov.

The question remains now on when Ukraine will specifically submit its application for NATO membership. Sergei Korsunsky, its ambassador to Turkey, had told The Anadolu Agency his country "isn't actually ready yet to join." He said Ukraine is aware that seeking membership with NATO "is high, and a NATO member must be prepared to deploy forces on NATO missions around the world. Ukraine cannot manage either of these requirements yet."

Right now, he said Ukraine's focus is to build and strengthen its armed forces to be able to defend itself from Russian incursions on its territory. He said this is being achieved through the training and equipment, as well as funds being provided by NATO. 

"When we were attacked, we had practically no armed forces," Korsunsky said. We certainly expected no need to defend ourselves from Western Europe, and we didn't anticipate ever being attacked by Russia. We have had to create our army and navy almost from scratch."

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