Sunday

24th Sep 2017

Ukraine crisis creates bad will between Nato and Russia

  • Lavrov (l) was visibly annoyed by Rasmussen's criticism (Photo: securityconference.de)

The Ukraine crisis is creating new mistrust between Nato and Russia.

Nato head Anders Fogh Rasmussen and US secretary of state John Kerry criticised Russia’s conduct in Ukraine and in the former Soviet region in general at a security congress in Munich on Saturday (1 February).

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Rasmussen linked Russia’s recent deployment of missiles and fighter jets in Belarus and Kaliningrad to its attempt to draw a line around its former domain.

“I become concerned when I hear of the deployment of offensive, not defensive, but offensive weapons systems … None of us wants a return to the dividing lines and the hostility of the past,” he said.

“Ukraine must have the freedom to choose its own path without external pressure,” he added.

Speaking next to Rasmussen, Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov complained of EU and US “incitement of increasingly violent street protests” in Kiev.

He said Russia’s missile deployment is designed to counter the US’ anti-ballistic missile system in the region.

Visibly annoyed, he made a veiled threat against the TV station, Euronews, over its reporting on Ukraine.

Noting that it recently cited leaked information that Ukrainian activist Dmytro Bulatov was “tortured by Russians,” he said: "I would be very cautious about leakages, even from such a respected channel as Euronews, where Russia has 17 percent of the shares."

Kerry, speaking in a separate panel in Munich, also challenged Lavrov.

He said the US and the EU have a duty to support the Ukrainian opposition in its struggle against “corrupt, oligarchic interests” and foreign “coercion.”

“Nowhere is the fight for a democratic, European future more important today than in Ukraine. The United States and EU stand with the people of Ukraine in that fight,” he said.

He added that the creation of an EU-US free trade zone will give the West more power to defend its values overseas.

“If we are ambitious enough, TTIP [the free trade pact] will do for our shared prosperity what Nato has done for our shared security … Our shared prosperity and security are indivisble,” he said.

“Don’t underestimate for a second the difference this would make for courageous people like those in Ukraine.”

For his part, EU Council chairman Herman Van Rompuy defended the EU’s role in the crisis.

“Some people think Europeans are naive,” he said, referring to EU reliance on soft power.

“But … [our] power of attraction brought down the Berlin Wall. Our biggest carrot is a way of life. Our biggest stick: a closed door.”

The Nato chief and the Russian minister underlined that a military clash over Ukraine is out of the question.

Rasmussen said: “I don’t see a role for Nato in Ukraine. It’s for the Ukrainian people to decide.”

Lavrov noted that "military confrontation in Europe has become unthinkable.”

Some Munich delegates, such as one senior French diplomat, said Rasmussen was needlessly provocative.

But even Russia’s biggest friend in Europe, Germany, voiced concern over the trend in relations.

“If we were to think of a European foreign policy without or against Russia then it wouldn’t have a future. But I want to make it clear it’s also up to Moscow to see and define what they have in common with Europe and to state this commitment publicly,” German foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said.

News in Brief

  1. EU to hail 'aspirations' of former Soviet states
  2. UK says credit downgrade was wrong
  3. Dutch state appeals ban on taking air-polluting measures
  4. May proposes 2-year transition period after Brexit
  5. May to call on EU's 'sense of responsibility'
  6. Catalonia has 'contingency plans' for independence vote
  7. Last German polls confirm Merkel's lead
  8. EU to step up sanctions on North Korea

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EU2017EEEU Finance Ministers Agreed to Develop New Digital Taxation Rules
  2. Mission of China to the EUGermany Stands Ready to Deepen Cooperation With China
  3. World VisionFirst Ever Young People Consultation to Discuss the Much Needed Peace in Europe
  4. European Jewish CongressGermany First Country to Adopt Working Definition of Antisemitism
  5. EU2017EEFour Tax Initiatives to Modernise the EU's Tax System
  6. Dialogue PlatformResponsibility in Practice: Gulen & Islamic Thought
  7. Counter BalanceHuman Rights Concerns Over EIB Loan to the Trans Anatolian Pipeline Project
  8. Mission of China to the EUChina Leads the Global Clean Energy Transition
  9. CES - Silicones EuropeFrom Baking Moulds to Oven Mitts, Silicones Are a Key Ingredient in Kitchens
  10. Martens CentreFor a New Europeanism: How to Put the Motto "Unity in Diversity" Into Practice
  11. Access MBAGet Ahead With an MBA Degree. Top MBA Event in Brussels
  12. Idealist QuarterlyIdealist Quarterly Event: Building Fearless Democracies With Gerald Hensel