NATO head urges Russia to pull back troops from Ukraine border
LUXEMBOURG - Agence France-PresseNATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen urged Russia Tuesday to de-escalate tensions over Ukraine and withdraw troops massed on the border with its Soviet-era satellite.
"I am deeply concerned by the latest developments in Ukraine," Rasmussen said, citing the seizure of government buildings in the east of the country by pro-Moscow militias.
"I call on Russia to de-escalate the crisis, to pull back its troops ... to stop destabilising the situation and make clear it does not support the violent actions of pro-Russian separatists."
"Russia should stop being part of the problem and start being part of the solution," he said.
Rasmussen was to brief European Union defence ministers meeting here on NATO measures to bolster alliance member states in eastern Europe where the Ukraine crisis has sparked fears Russia is seeking to re-establish its former sphere of influence.
The NATO chief stressed "we are not discussing military options."
"We believe the right way forward is to find a political and diplomatic solution," he added.
The United States, NATO's lead military power, has deployed additional fighter aircraft to the Baltic states and Poland in recent weeks as the Ukraine crisis has unfolded.