Tensions rise between Russia and NATO, as Ukraine pushes ahead with NATO membership

The Ukrainian President talked with NATO Chief Stoltenberg

Tensions between Russia and NATO are rising in light of Ukraine’s efforts to expedite its admission in the western military alliance, a move Russia has made clear it considers aggression against its interests.

Russian forces had reportedly been sighted moving to its borders with Ukraine as NATO missiles were transferred to the conflict zone of Donbass.

Amid fears of worsening clashes in eastern Ukraine, Russian and American diplomats have held unscheduled bilateral talks in an effort to forestall an all-out conflict, which Moscow has warned could spell disaster for the region.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov told reporters on Tuesday that “we have had contact with the US administration on the situation in the Donbass, and we have exhaustively explained to their side what is happening.” He added that Western rhetoric over Ukraine is striking an increasingly belligerent tone, and that “Washington should be concerned about the consequences of this coordinated policy.”

The day before, US State Department spokesman Ned Price warned of credible reports of Russian troop movements on the border with Ukraine, which some in Kiev have claimed to be a precursor to an invasion. He added that Washington is “open to engagement with Moscow” to prevent a crisis and issued a “call on Russia to refrain from escalatory actions.”

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky, during a conversation with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, said the most pressing issue for Ukraine is the possibility of obtaining a NATO Membership Action Plan (MAP).

“We are committed to reforming our army and the defense sector, but reforms alone cannot stop Russia. NATO is the only way to end the war in Donbas. The MAP will be a real signal for Russia,” his press service said, citing the president.

Zelensky informed the NATO Secretary General about “pulling Russian troops to the Ukrainian borders and increasing the level of their readiness for an offensive,” and also thanked him for the attention of the North Atlantic Alliance to the security situation around Ukraine.

sources interfax, rt