Nato: High probability of Russian intervention

Brussels - Nato chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen said on Monday he saw a "high probability" that Russia could intervene militarily in eastern Ukraine and that Nato detected no sign that Moscow was pulling back thousands of troops from close to the Ukrainian border.

Asked in a Reuters interview how he rated the chances of a Russian military intervention, Rasmussen said: "There is a high probability."

"We see the Russians developing the narrative and the pretext for such an operation under the guise of a humanitarian operation and we see a military buildup that could be used to conduct such illegal military operations in Ukraine," he said.

Nato said last week that Russia had amassed around 20 000 combat-ready troops on Ukraine's eastern border.

However, President Vladimir Putin's spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said on Monday that Moscow would send humanitarian aid to Ukraine only if all involved parties agreed to the move.

Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimea region in March and its support for separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine have caused the biggest crisis in its relations with the West since the Cold War. Nato has suspended practical cooperation with Moscow.

Russia's Defence Ministry said on Friday it had finished military exercises in southern Russia, around 1 000km from the Ukraine border, which the United States had criticised as a "provocative" step amid the Ukraine crisis.

However, Rasmussen said the Western military alliance saw no signs of a withdrawal of Russian forces from close to the Ukraine border.

Keeping option open

"There are thousands of Russian troops, well equipped, and we see it as an indication that the Russian leadership keeps the option open to intervene further militarily in Ukraine," he said. "Any Russian intervention under the guise of a humanitarian mission would be unjustified and illegal."

Asked if Nato, a US-dominated, 28-nation alliance, could get involved militarily in Ukraine if Russian forces did invade, Rasmussen said it was a hypothetical question.

"However, we are not considering military operations. If the Russians were to intervene further in Ukraine, I have no doubt that the international community would respond determinedly, notably through broader, deeper, tougher economic sanctions that would isolate Russia further," he said.

Accusing Moscow of creating the "disastrous humanitarian situation" in eastern Ukraine, Rasmussen said the best way to solve it would be for the Russians to pull back their troops from the border, "stop the flow of weapons and fighters and money into Ukraine and cease the support for armed separatists and engage in a constructive political dialogue".

Rasmussen also said that Nato would take all steps necessary to defend alliance member Turkey if it were threatened by Islamic State fighters who have made gains in neighbouring Iraq and Syria.

"We are very much concerned about the activities of the so-called Islamic State, which is a bunch of terrorists, and it is of utmost importance to stop their advance," Rasmussen said.

"If any of our allies, and in this case of course particularly Turkey, were to be threatened from any source of threat, we won't hesitate to take all steps necessary to ensure effective defence of Turkey or any other ally," he said.

Nato sent Patriot anti-missile batteries to Turkey last year to protect it from any spillover from the Syrian civil war but Rasmussen said Ankara had not asked the alliance for any further help following the Islamic State advance.

The alliance had held internal consultations, at Turkey's request, "on the whole situation in the region", he said.

The United States has begun a campaign of air strikes and humanitarian aid drops in northern Iraq but Nato was not considering any military action against Islamic State, Rasmussen said.

Rasmussen's five-year term as Nato chief will finish at the end of September following a Nato summit in Wales. He will be succeeded by former Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg.

VoxPopuli 2014/08/11 05:52:13 PM
would requesting a satellite pic proving Russian troop build-up on the Ukraine border be asking too much?
Johan Bester 2014/08/11 06:18:29 PM
Rasmussen you and NATO are the provokers. I hope Putin is sending another 20k!
PRQBR 2014/08/11 07:39:37 PM
Then enlighten us please Iva. Or is name calling as far as your posts go?
dunkie56 2014/08/11 08:43:15 PM
He wishes Russia would invade..he just can't understand how Putin has not done so yet as he has done all he can to provoke this outcome!Ukraine is the sacrificial lamb that the US and the EU will sacrifice so at to have an excuse to paint Russia as the villain and the biggest threat to world peace.I think Putin is way to shrewd to fall into their trap as he is confident that Russia could match anything that NATO could throw at the idea that he can be forced and provoked into action is weak unimaginative and a good indication that those in Western Europe have long ago lost all sense of reality regarding Russia and it's place in the world.This is a what happens when countries allow one superpower to run their affairs for way to the US!
Diana Gill 2014/08/11 09:02:34 PM
This Fog (on purpose without h) becomes really boring with yet another evidence which only exists in his disturbed head.
Willie Daffue 2014/08/12 02:14:37 AM
@Iva Tavla: You are almost quoting the lying and deceptive American State Department's Spokespersons verbatim. Remember Colin Powell at the UN lying to the whole world in trying to justify their invasion of Iraq! So much for your take!
PRQBR 2014/08/12 10:27:27 AM
Haha Iva. Trying to be condescending, so cute coming from a fake account. Why don't you put your name to your argument? You won't. Anyway, why so critical of Russia when everyone else does it too seeing as you have no side? Easier to run with MSM stories? You also sound a lot like the other fake profiles commenting here, do you all know each other up there in that one head? Yes Russia has plans for a greater Russia. Every country has those plans, including the US who with their western partners have been waging war non stop for how long now? But it's always someone else that is the threat to global peace. They are all equally despicable in my opinion, but you keep on chanting for war like the other fake accounts. Hell, who am I kidding? There will never be peace on this planet.
PRQBR 2014/08/12 03:31:51 PM
When and where have I said they are honest? I have stated that I think all governments are despicable, must have me confused with someone else. Next up whats CP? I actually agree with you but think your singular projection is narrow minded, maybe even hypocritical. If you condemn one side for a wrong and not the other for a similar wrong then you are a hypocrite. And thanks for keeping up the fight against the religiots. Snarky is now my word of the day!
Beverly Banting 2014/08/16 04:08:52 PM
But, then, Rasmussen has always been a strong supporter of U.S. Foreign Policy. He supported the illegal U.S. invasion of Iraq. He is not a credible person to be leading NATO in this particular situation. He also has to explain why one country can invade another and it is OK (even when the reasons for it were invented by the U.S. out of absolutely nothing), but Russia's protection of its territory is not okay. He also needs to explain the ongoing aggression against Russia by NATO, E.U., and the U.S. Once again, that western aggression has so far no basis to account for its scope and rapaciousness. Russia shares a border with Ukraine and has good reason to protect that border. The U.S. had no such territorial concern with Iraq.