On Tuesday, NATO officially canceled all cooperation with Russia due to annexation of Crimea and troop buildup on Ukraine’s east border. Recent comments from Russian diplomats raised concerns that NATO countries Latvia and Estonia might be Russia President Vladimir Putin’s next targets. From Reuters:
NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Russia’s actions meant there could be no “business as usual”.
“So today, we are suspending all practical cooperation with Russia, military and civilian,” he told a news conference.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said NATO’s future relationship with Russia would depend, among other things, on whether Russia started withdrawing troops from the Ukrainian border.
Ukraine is not a NATO country, but NATO views the annexation as illegal and does not recognize it. In their statement, NATO said Russia violated many international laws, the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council Basic Document, the NATO-Russia Founding Act, and the Rome Declaration.
NATO decided to continue the NATO-Russia Council for dialogue during a crisis.
NATO warned Russia many times over their troops on Ukraine’s border. Putin insists each time they are in compliance with international laws. Putin told German Chancellor Angela Merkel he would pull back some of the troops, but NATO claims they do not see any troops leaving. NATO did say they would move more forces to the Baltic states and help Ukraine with training and military exercises.
Vice President Joe Biden visited Poland and the leaders of Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia. He promised America’s NATO allies the US will be there to defend them if Russia decides to take action. The US sent military equipment to Poland and participated in more military exercises with the Polish air force.
However, Poland expressed frustration with NATO’s slow movement.
Prime Minister Donald Tusk said on Tuesday that the pace at which NATO was increasing its military presence in Poland was unsatisfactory.
Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski, who said earlier he would be satisfied if NATO located two heavy brigades in Poland, said on arrival at the NATO meeting that he would welcome any NATO forces being stationed there.