Nato foreign ministers have ordered the suspension of all practical civilian and military cooperation with Russia, in response to its recent takeover of the Crimean peninsula.
During a meeting in Brussels, Belgium, ministers condemned Russia’s illegal military intervention in Ukraine, and urged the country to engage in dialogue towards finding a political and diplomatic solution that respects both international law and Ukraine’s internationally recognised borders.
Nato Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Russia, through its actions, had chosen to ‘undermine the very foundations upon which our cooperation is built’.
"In light of this, there can be no business as usual," Rasmussen said.
The ministers said in a joint statement that the political dialogue in the Nato-Russia Council will continue, as necessary, at the ambassadorial level and above, to facilitate the exchange of views on the crisis.
"We will review Nato’s relations with Russia at our next meeting in June," the ministers said.
In addition, in a separate meeting with the Ukrainian Foreign Minister, Andrii Deshchytsia, the ministers agreed to intensify cooperation to support Ukraine’s defence reforms.
"Today, Nato and Ukraine have agreed, as set out in the statement by the Nato-Ukraine Commission, to implement immediate and longer-term measures in order to strengthen Ukraine’s ability to provide for its own security," the ministers added.
Measures may include greater access to the alliance exercises, increased cooperation with regards to training and other programmes, as well as support for the development and modernisation of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.
Meanwhile, Russia warned Ukraine against integration with Nato, saying the previous such attempts had ‘led to a freezing of Russian-Ukrainian political contacts, a "headache" in Nato-Russia relations and… a deepening split within Ukrainian society’, BBC News reports.
Image: Nato foreign ministers condemned Russia’s illegal military intervention in Ukraine during the meeting in Brussels, Belgium. Photo: courtesy of Nato.