Russian president Vladimir Putin said in a phone conversation with the head of European Commission, Jose Manuel Durao Barroso, that he can take Kiev in two weeks if he want. But the Kremlin says Putin’s remarks were taken out of the context and had a very different meaning, according to Russian media.
Meanwhile Ukraine accused Russia to have 1,600 troops fighting with the rebels.
“At least four battalion tactical groups of the Russian Armed Forces are operating in Ukraine”, a military spokesman said. Russia denies it.
Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko called this a “direct and open aggression” launched by a neighbouring state and stated that “this radically changes the situation in the fighting zone”.
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said that “Russia is intervening overtly in Ukraine” And announced that to deal with Russia’s menace and other conflicts, they will develop – he said – “what I would call a spearhead within our Response Force – a very high readiness force able to deploy at very short notice. This spearhead would be provided by Allies in rotation, and could include several thousand troops, ready to respond where needed with air, sea and Special Forces support.”
All this will be discussed at a summit this week in Wales.
Rasmussen didn’t rule out a hypothetical Ukrainian membership: He reminded that in 2008 they declared that Ukraine will become a member of NATO “provided of course Ukraine so wishes and provided Ukraine fulfills the necessary criteria. In the meantime Ukraine has decided to pursue a so-called non-alliance policy. We fully respect that because we adhere to the principle that each and every nation has the right to decide on its security policies including alliance affiliation without an external interference. So we fully respect the choice of Ukraine, the same goes if Ukraine were to change its current policies of non-alliance position. In that case we will discuss with Ukraine how to move forward.”
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has been invited to the summit in Wales.
Anders Fogh Rasmussen
Jose Manuel Durao Barroso