by NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen at the meeting of the European Union Foreign Affairs Council at the level of Defence Ministers in Luxembourg
I am deeply concerned by the latest developments in Ukraine - the continued violence by small groups of separatists, and Russia’s continued military pressure on Ukraine’s borders.
I call on Russia to de-escalate the crisis, to pull back its troops from Ukraine’s borders, to stop de-stabilizing the situation in Ukraine, and make clear that it doesn’t support the violent actions of pro-Russian separatists.
Russia should stop being part of the problem, and start being part of the solution.
In today’s meeting I will inform EU Ministers about the measures NATO has taken, and will take to further strengthen collective defence, at sea, in the air, on land.
These measures will follow three tracks, re-enforced defence plans, enhanced exercises and appropriate deployments.
And finally I will call for strengthened cooperation between NATO and the European Union and our close partners. We need to train and exercise more together for instance the NATO Response Force and the EU Battle groups so that we stand ready for whatever the future may bring.
QUESTION: (Off microphone).
ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN: I beg your pardon?
QUESTION: What would it take that NATO get involved militarily in Ukraine?
ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN: We are not discussing military options. We do believe that the right way forward is to find a political and diplomatic solution. However we are focused militarily on strengthening defence of our Allies. That’s our core task.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) President Obama, President Putin said that all the accusations are only based on speculation. Is your information reliable (inaudible) President Putin (inaudible)?
ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN: Of course our information is reliable and I think the Russian behaviour and actions on the ground speak for themselves.
QUESTION: Have you seen any more evidence to prove (inaudible…)?
ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN: Obviously we never as a matter of principle comment on intelligence, but I think from what is visible, it’s very clear that Russia’s hand is deeply engaged in this.
QUESTION: Is the situation on the ground (inaudible) high or low (inaudible) for the meeting in Geneva (inaudible)?
ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN: Well, of course we support all efforts of the international community to find a political solution. But it’s also important to stress that it’s for Ukraine and Ukrainian people alone to decide the future of the country. Any sustainable solution must fulfil the democratic aspirations of the entire Ukrainian people and fully respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.
QUESTION: Is it possible to have (inaudible…)?
ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN: We are right now considering further steps to strengthen our collective defence. As I indicated that also includes what I would call appropriate deployment, but it’s a bit too early to go into details as to how we will in concrete terms strengthen collective defence.
OANA LUNGESCU (NATO SPOKESPERSON): Thank you very much.
ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN: But no one should doubt our determination to ensure effective defence and protection of all Allies.
OANA LUNGESCU (NATO SPOKESPERSON): Thank you.