Wednesday

24th May 2017

Russia mocks ex-Nato chief's new Kiev job

  • Fogh Rasmussen (second from right) was outspoken critic of Russia in his time as Nato chief (Photo: nato.int)

Russian politicians have mocked Ukraine’s decision to appoint a former Nato chief, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, as an aide to president Petro Poroshenko.

Sergei Zhigarev, a Russian MP who is deputy head of the Duma’s defence committee, told Russian media it showed Poroshenko “does not trust his own citizens”. Konstantin Kosachev, the head of the foreign affairs committee, called it “buffoonery” that is designed “to keep Ukraine in the centre of attention with its Western partners”. Leonid Kalashnikov, who is Kosachev’s deputy, called it a “hostile gesture” toward Russia.

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Fogh Rasmussen's appointment was announced over the weekend. The former Danish PM, who was Nato secretary general from 2009 to 2014, and who now works in the PR sector, said on Facebook on Saturday (28 May) that he would “promote security and reforms in Ukraine and strengthen the Ukraine-EU bond.” He said the situation in east Ukraine was “alarming”, but he also urged Kiev to do more to “fight against corruption”.

The ex-Nato chief is the latest in a series of foreigners appointed to senior posts in Ukraine including in the finance ministry, economy ministry, EU affairs ministry, the prosecution service and local government. The governor of Ukraine's Odessa region and former Georgian PM Mikheil Saakashvilli is also disliked by the Kremlin.

The Russian MPs’ tough talk comes after a visit by Russian leader Vladimir Putin to Greece last Friday and Saturday. Putin said while in Athens that Romanian people should get used to being “in the cross-hairs” after they agreed to host a US anti-missile base and that there would be “no discussions” on restoring Crimea to Ukraine. “As far as Crimea is concerned, we consider this question is closed forever”, he said.

The Greek PM, Alexis Tsipras, criticised EU sanctions. “We have repeatedly said that the vicious circle of militarisation, of Cold War rhetoric and of sanctions is not productive. The solution is dialogue”, he said, as EU leaders prepare to extend the duration of the Russia measures before they expire in July.

Investigation

Fight club: Russian spies seek EU recruits

Russian intelligence services are using martial arts clubs to recruit potential troublemakers in Germany and other EU countries, security experts have warned.

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