Tuesday

24th Apr 2018

Nato chief: Crimea invasion could be just the beginning

  • Rasmussen: 'our major concern now is whether he [Putin] will go beyond Crimea' (Photo: nato.int)

Nato chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen has warned Crimea could be the beginning of a wider military campaign, amid Russia's veiled threats against EU and Nato member Estonia.

He told the Brookings Institution, a think tank in Washington, on Wednesday (19 March): “I see Crimea as an element in a greater pattern, in a more long-term Russian, or at least [Russian leader Vladimir] Putin, strategy. So of course our major concern now is whether he will go beyond Crimea."

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  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.

He added: “This crisis is not just about Ukraine. We see what could be called ‘21st century revisionism’: Attempts to turn back the clock; to draw new dividing lines on the map; to monopolise markets; shuffle populations.”

He urged Nato members to increase defence spending.

He pledged “further steps to reassure [Nato] allies” and to “step up assistance to Ukraine.”

But as EU leaders meet in Brussels on Thursday amid disagreement on whether to impose economic sanctions on Russia, he admitted the West is struggling to respond.

“There are no quick and easy ways to stand up to global bullies. Because our democracies debate, deliberate, and consider the options before taking decisions. Because we value transparency and seek legitimacy for our choices, and because we see force as the last, not the first, resort,” Rasmussen noted.

For his part, US President Barack Obama, the same day said on TV there is no question of using military means.

"We are not going to be getting into a military excursion in Ukraine … There is a better path, but I think even the Ukrainians would acknowledge that for us to engage Russia militarily would not be appropriate and would not be good for Ukraine either," he told the NBC broadcaster.

With Russia massing forces on Ukraine’s borders, the immediate concern is that Russia will invade other Ukrainian regions.

But remarks by a Russian diplomat at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on Wednesday contained a veiled threat to go further.

Russia invaded and annexed Crimea on the pretext of protecting the ethnic Russian majority in the Ukrainian region.

It has long complained that ethnic Russians in Estonia and Latvia are also mistreated. But the Russian diplomat on Wednesday linked the situation in the Baltic states to what Russia is doing in Ukraine.

According to minutes of the meeting seen by Reuters, he noted that “language should not be used to segregate and isolate groups,” adding that Moscow is "concerned by steps taken in this regard in Estonia as well as in Ukraine.”

The Russian diplomat denied that the rights of minorities in Crimea are being abused.

But EU diplomats paint a different picture.

Jan Tombinski, the EU’s ambassador in Kiev, has called for an investigation into the “shameful” murder of Reshat Ametov, a 39-year-old Crimean Tatar activist, whose body was found on Sunday.

He noted that one Ukrainian soldier was shot dead by pro-Russian paramilitaries. He also called for the release of 10 Ukrainian activists and of “several servicemen from the Ukrainian military” who have been “kidnapped” in Crimea.

Putin claims 95 percent of Russian people support his actions.

But he has tightened restrictions on critics, such as opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who was put under house arrest and cut off from the internet shortly before the invasion.

Navalny, in a text smuggled out of his house and published in The New York Times on Wednesday, noted that 50,000 people protested against Putin’s military adventure in Moscow last weekend in the largest such event in recent times.

He said EU and US visa bans on some Russian officials and MPs are “mocked in Russia and even seen as a tacit encouragement to Mr Putin and his entourage.”

He urged the West to blacklist Putin’s oligarch allies instead, in what he called “the Kremlin mafia,” naming eight men: Gennady Timchenko; Arkady and Boris Rotenberg; Yuri Kovalchuk; Vladimir Yakunin; Roma Abramovich; Alisher Usmanov; Igor Sechin; and Alexey Miller.

He described Kovalchuk, a financier, as “Mr Putin’s banker.”

He said the EU and US should also launch money-laundering investigations into their foreign assets.

He noted that his NGO, the Anti-Corruption Foundation, has since 2011”revealed dozens of major cases of graft.”

But he added: “In 90 percent of those cases, Russian money was laundered in the West. Sadly, American, European Union and British law enforcement agencies have [so far] stymied our efforts to investigate such criminal plunder.”

Feature

Spanish navy makes bid for EU anti-pirate HQ

Spanish special forces seized a boat from 'African pirates' as diplomats looked on in a drill on Monday, marking Spain's bid to grab the EU's top military mission from the UK over Brexit.

EU toes the line on Syria air strikes

EU foreign ministers to back Western air strikes on Syria, the same way they backed the UK over Russia's chemical attack on an ex-spy in Britain.

Analysis

Is Germany more hawkish on Russia?

Germany's socialist foreign minister just said the EU should "step up pressure" on Russia. Merkel aired "political" doubts on a Russian pipeline.

News in Brief

  1. Far-right attack migrants on Greek island
  2. Merkel defends accepting UN refugees
  3. EU commissioner plans Malta 'money laundering' inspection
  4. Survey: Half of high polluting farms receive CAP subsidies
  5. Commission will 'not shy away' from Malta killing repercussions
  6. EU Commission opens probe on Alitalia state loan
  7. Paris suspect given 20-year sentence for Brussels shoot-out
  8. Merkel and Pena Nieto praise EU-Mexico trade agreement

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of Ministers12 Recommendations for Nordic Leadership on Climate and Environment
  2. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOxford Professor Calls for an End to the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  3. ACCAPeople Who Speak-Up Should Feel Safe to Do So
  4. Mission of China to the EUProgress on China-EU Cooperation
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersWorld's Energy Ministers to Meet in Oresund in May to Discuss Green Energy
  6. ILGA EuropeParabéns! Portugal Votes to Respect the Rights of Trans and Intersex People
  7. Mission of China to the EUJobs, Energy, Steel: Government Work Report Sets China's Targets
  8. Martens CentreJoin Us at NET@WORK2018 Featuring Debates on Migration, Foreign Policy, Populism & Disinformation
  9. European Jewish CongressKantor Center Annual Report on Antisemitism Worldwide - The Year the Mask Came Off
  10. UNICEFCalls for the Protection of Children in the Gaza Strip
  11. Mission of China to the EUForeign Minister Wang Yi Highlights Importance of China-EU Relations
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersImmigration and Integration in the Nordic Region - Getting the Facts Straight

Latest News

  1. Spanish navy makes bid for EU anti-pirate HQ
  2. How Russian propaganda depicts Europe - should we worry?
  3. MEPs tell Chinese ambassador of concerns on trade
  4. Greenland votes with eye on independence
  5. EU court delivers blow to anti-abortion activists
  6. Hungary activists defiant after 'Soros Mercenaries' attack
  7. European Commission proposes whistleblower protection law
  8. Secrecy of VW fraud report 'unacceptable', says MEP

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMacedonians in Bulgaria Demand to End the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  2. Counter BalanceThe EIB Needs to Lead by Example on Tax Justice
  3. ILGA EuropeTrans People in Sweden to be Paid Compensation for Forced Sterilisation
  4. International Partnership for Human RightsThe Danger of Standing Up for Justice and Rights in Central Asia
  5. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Must Work Together to Promote Global Steel Sector
  6. Swedish EnterprisesEU Tax Proposal on Digital Services Causes Concern for Small Exporting Economies
  7. European Jewish CongressCondemns the Horrific Murder of Holocaust Survivor Mireille Knoll in Paris
  8. Mission of China to the EUAn Open China Will Foster a World-Class Business Environment
  9. ECR GroupAn Opportunity to Help Shape a Better Future for Europe
  10. Counter BalanceControversial Turkish Azerbaijani Gas Pipeline Gets Major EU Loan
  11. World VisionSyria’s Children ‘At Risk of Never Fully Recovering', New Study Finds
  12. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMeets with US Congress Member to Denounce Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations