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Russia and Ukraine at forefront of NATO minds at summit in Wales


Russia and Ukraine at forefront of NATO minds at summit in Wales


The NATO summit taking place in Newport, Wales, has been billed as the most significant such meeting since the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Sixty world leaders have gathered, from the 28-member alliance and associated participants — with thousands of delegates.

Most urgent on the programme is the tension between Russia and Ukraine, with agreement between Presidents Putin and Poroshenko proving elusive.

The alliance intends to adapt its operations to the new security environment surrounding the Ukraine crisis, including equipment and supplies.

An enhanced NATO Response Force in Eastern Europe will be up for discussion – in case of potential Russian aggression – entailing the possible deployment of 4,000 NATO troops within 48 hours.

Other serious threats to NATO countries’ national security include piracy, terrorism and cyber attacks.

This is the first NATO summit in the United Kingdom since Margaret Thatcher welcomed leaders to London in 1990.

The allies are also assessing targeted strikes against the forces of the self-proclaimed Islamic State wreaking havoc in Iraq and Syria. Washington is expected to propose an international coalition and strategy. NATO’s mission is to protect its members’ 900 million citizens “from the changing and multiplying threats of an unpredictable world.”

At the same time, the military withdrawal from Afghanistan, after more then a decade of concerted operations there, is still a major worry. The deadline is for the end of this year, yet the political turbulence due to the disputed presidential election results has many fearing a return of extremist Taliban warlords.

NATO will enact a change of its own leadership at the two-day summit: Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, in charge since 2009, will officially designate his successor, Norwegian former Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, who will step into the position on October 1st.

Russian Ambassador to NATO Alexander Gruschko joined euronews correspondent Andrei Beketov to talk about the Russia-Ukraine situation and NATO’s plans boost its presence in central and eastern European countries.

euronews: “Mr Grushko, let’s talk about the NATO summit in Wales which will be discussing Russia. What do you think about the fact Russia itself was not invited?”

Russian Ambassador to NATO Alexander Gruschko: “There was not really a question of organising a joint summit. But after the NATO countries unilaterally withdrew in April from the cooperation projects with Russia, this question lost its relevance completely. Let them discuss their problems between themselves.”

euronews: “How will Russia take NATO’s plans to increase its presence in Eastern Europe which will probably be announced in Wales?”

Gruschko: “Absolutely negatively. We don’t hide our attitude. We have already expressed many times our concern about recent increased activity along the Russian borders, on the ground, in the air and in the sea. This worries us for many reasons. First of all, there is no ground for increased NATO activities.”

euronews: “But Eastern European countries express concern about their own security because of Russia’s behaviour in Ukraine, which they consider as aggression. Is it not justified?”

Gruschko: “These worries are completely baseless. We have proven many times that all these so called facts produced by NATO and other European capitals are not really facts, but fabricated documents. We are not concentrating troops, neither movement of military hardware which could be considered as destabilising. Generally speaking, I think this attitude is largely related to phobias, not to real security concerns. And phobias can not be treated with deploying tanks and additional combat forces. That’s why many countries should really look at the problems which exist in their own societies.”

euronews: “Some of the participants of the Wales summit have already said that Russia consistently violates the Founding Act. That’s why they don’t feel obliged to observe it themselves. Is this document important to you?”

Gruschko: “In this situation, NATO takes a course which could seriously weaken regional and global security. On one hand, NATO begins military preparations against Russia. On the other hand, NATO reduces its own ability to cooperate with Russia over the problems which NATO cannot efficiently deal with on its own without interaction with international players including Russia.”

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