* Moscow complains of unprecedented NATO activity
* NATO says Russia arming separatists in east Ukraine
* Two sides discussing 'two different worlds'
(Adds quotes, NATO comment, context)
By Adrian Croft and Steve Gutterman
BRUSSELS/MOSCOW, June 2 Russia's envoy to NATO
on Monday accused the Western alliance of encouraging the use of
force by the Ukrainian government in eastern Ukraine and of
hampering efforts to find a peaceful solution to the crisis,
Russian news agency RIA reported.
RIA quoted Alexander Grushko, who met ambassadors of NATO
member states in Brussels, as saying "unprecedented" activity by
the alliance near Russia's borders was adding to tension and
could undermine existing security arrangements.
At a meeting that showed the sides were "far apart" on the
Ukraine crisis, which has brought ties to a post-Cold War low,
NATO envoys accused Russia of backing armed rebels in Ukraine,
an alliance spokeswoman said.
NATO suspended all practical cooperation with Russia in
April to protest its annexation of Crimea, but left the door
open to contacts at ambassadorial level or higher in order to
allow the two sides to discuss ways out of the crisis.
The Western military alliance has sought to reassure eastern
European allies alarmed by Russia's takeover of Crimea by
stepping up exercises and sending more fighter aircraft and
ships to the region.
"We have noticed unprecedented NATO activity near Russia's
borders. It is excessive, inappropriate, and weakens stability,
security and predictability in the Euro-Atlantic region,"
state-run RIA quoted Grushko as saying.
He said that "demonstrations of military muscle and calls
for increased military spending" were "a dead-end street. These
actions are fraught with increased tension ... and the erosion
of the existing security system in the region."
Ukrainian President-elect Petro Poroshenko and the
pro-Western authorities in Kiev have defied Russia's calls for
an end to the government's military operation against
pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.
"NATO is providing Kiev ... with technical support, thus
encouraging the continuation of forceful actions," Grushko was
quoted as saying, adding that the alliance shared the blame for
"the escalation of the situation" in eastern Ukraine.
A NATO spokeswoman said that at the meeting in Brussels "it
was very clear that the views on the crisis in Ukraine remain
far apart and NATO allies repeated their very strong and clear
position on the illegal and illegitimate annexation of Crimea."
The NATO allies commended Ukraine's May 25 presidential
election as a clear vote for the unity of the country and urged
Russia to "engage constructively" with Poroshenko, said the
spokeswoman, Oana Lungescu.
They also called on Russia "to stop the flow of arms and
weapons across the border, to stop supporting armed separatists
in Ukraine and to withdraw in a full and verifiable manner their
troops from the Ukrainian border," she said.
Russia denies arming the rebels or orchestrating the unrest,
and accuses Ukraine of aggravating the situation by resorting to
"Towards the end of his response, Ambassador Grushko said
that he felt that we were talking about two different worlds,
and that was very much my sensation too," a senior NATO diplomat
"The rhetoric is very inflammatory. It does not resemble the
picture that we have of the situation in Ukraine, sadly, and it
makes it very difficult for anyone to connect with this Russian
(Writing by Steve Gutterman; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)