NATO has announced that it is suspending all military and civilian cooperation with Russia over the Ukrainian crisis, the bloc said in a joint statement.
“We have decided to suspend all practical civilian and military cooperation between NATO and Russia. Our political dialogue in the NATO-Russia Council can continue, as necessary, at the Ambassadorial level and above, to allow us to exchange views, first and foremost on this crisis,” the statement reads. The alliance plans to review its relations with Russia at a meeting in June.
The decision could affect cooperation on Afghanistan in areas such as training counter-narcotics personnel, maintenance of Afghan air force helicopters, and a transit route out of the war-torn country. Other projects around fighting terrorism, drug trafficking, and dealing with the disarmament and non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction could also be impacted.
Despite the harsh public statement, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen backtracked when speaking to reporters after the ministerial meeting on Tuesday, apparently muddying the message the alliance wants to send. Rasmussen said that NATO expects Russia to continue working with the alliance on the important issues.
“I would expect the counter-narcotics projects to continue, I would also expect the Afghanistan-related cooperation projects to continue, the transit arrangements, as well as helicopter projects also because we have a joint interest in ensuring success on our mission in Afghanistan,” Rasmussen said.
NATO foreign ministers also urged Moscow in “to take immediate steps … to return to compliance with international law.”
The bloc said that it was stepping up its cooperation with Ukraine, promoting defense reforms and increasing the activity of a liaison office in Kiev.
The goal will be to modernize Ukraine’s armed forces, including through Ukraine’s involvement in more of NATO’s military exercises, according to Rasmussen. As of now, the efforts to modernize will come short of sending weapons to Ukraine.
Ukraine provided NATO members with a list of “technical equipment” it required for the nation’s armed forces, which did not include weaponry, Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Andrey Deshchitsya told a news conference after meeting with NATO ministers.
NATO and Ukraine issued a joint statement after a meeting of their ministers in Brussels. They said that they would “implement immediate and longer term measures to strengthen Ukraine’s ability to provide for its own security.”
A series of meetings in Brussels was called on Tuesday in response to what the bloc sees as Russia’s aggression in Ukraine and its annexation of Crimea. The bloc called on Moscow to reduce its troop number in Crimea to pre-crisis levels, withdraw them to their bases and taper military activities along its border with Ukraine… see more