NATO's Rasmussen criticizes Russian pressure on Ukraine

PARIS Wed Jan 29, 2014 3:28am EST

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen holds a news conference while taking part in a European Union leaders summit at the EU council headquarters in Brussels December 19, 2013. REUTERS/Yves Herman

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen holds a news conference while taking part in a European Union leaders summit at the EU council headquarters in Brussels December 19, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Yves Herman

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PARIS (Reuters) - NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen criticized Russia on Wednesday for pressuring Kiev not to sign a free trade pact with the European Union, a move that triggered mass protests.

Ukraine, caught in a tug-of-war for influence between Moscow and Brussels, has been rocked by protests since it walked away from the EU association deal two months ago. On Tuesday, Prime Minister Mykola Azarov resigned and deputies rolled back anti-protest laws to try to defuse the crisis.

"An association pact with Ukraine would have been a major boost to Euro-Atlantic security, I truly regret that it could not be done," Rasmussen told le Figaro daily. "The reason is well-known: pressure that Russia exerts on Kiev."

Rasmussen also condemned police violence against the protesters and pressed Ukraine's leaders to assert their independence, urging closer ties with his North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the European Union.

Noting that cooperation between NATO and Russia had improved in some areas, he criticized Russia's role in eastern Europe.

"We have real differences and real issues," he said. "It's obvious that Russia's attitude is clearly hostile to the (NATO) alliance opening to the east."

(Reporting By Nicholas Vinocur, editing by Elizabeth Piper)

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Comments (5)
Fred_1945 wrote:
Double standards once more! If the protesters had acted with so much violence in Berlin or Paris, with hundreds of police in hospitals,occupying and looting of the ministries, the riots would have been denounced and suppressed long ago. When it happens in the former Soviet Union the brutality of protesting militants becomes “peaceful protest”.
Yes, Ukraine is caught in a tug-of-war for influence between Russia and the West. Does it mean one of the sides is to blame for it? Please note that one side wants to maintain its influnce and the other tries to expand its influence in detriment of the first.

Jan 29, 2014 3:44am EST  --  Report as abuse
Fred_1945 wrote:
Double standards once more! If the protesters had acted with so much violence in Berlin or Paris, with hundreds of police in hospitals,occupying and looting of the ministries, the riots would have been denounced and suppressed long ago. When it happens in the former Soviet Union the brutality of protesting militants becomes “peaceful protest”.
Yes, Ukraine is caught in a tug-of-war for influence between Russia and the West. Does it mean one of the sides is to blame for it? Please note that one side wants to maintain its influnce and the other tries to expand its influence in detriment of the first.

Jan 29, 2014 3:44am EST  --  Report as abuse
Fred_1945 wrote:
Double standards once more! If the protesters had acted with so much violence in Berlin or Paris, with hundreds of police in hospitals,occupying and looting of the ministries, the riots would have been denounced and suppressed long ago. When it happens in the former Soviet Union the brutality of protesting militants becomes “peaceful protest”.
Yes, Ukraine is caught in a tug-of-war for influence between Russia and the West. Does it mean one of the sides is to blame for it? Please note that one side wants to maintain its influnce and the other tries to expand its influence in detriment of the first.

Jan 29, 2014 3:44am EST  --  Report as abuse
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