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NATO's Rasmussen: more Russian intervention in Ukraine would be 'historic mistake'

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NATO's Rasmussen: more Russian intervention in Ukraine would be 'historic mistake'
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The war of words is escalating.

As NATO suspended cooperation with Russia over its annexation of Crimea, Moscow has denounced what it called the “verbal jousting” of the Cold War.

Foreign ministers from the 28-nation military alliance were meeting in Brussels for the first time since events in Crimea sparked the worst East-West crisis since the Cold War era.

Language reminiscent of that time is certainly being used.

“If Russia were to intervene further in Ukraine, I would not hesitate to call it an historic mistake,” NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen told a news conference. “That would lead to further international isolation of Russia.”

NATO’s top military commander, US Air Force General Philip Breedlove, said that Russia could achieve its objective in three to five days if it decided to carry out an “incursion” into Ukraine.

In Russia, meanwhile, Ukraine’s ousted President Viktor Yanukovych said the loss of Crimea was the fault of the new authorities in Kyiv, blaming what he called their “radical position” towards Russian speakers.

Lamenting “the pain and tragedy that has happened with Crimea,” he said it was hard to come to terms with.

“This is a graphic example, where the population of such a huge region held a referendum in the wake of protests and effectively seceded from Ukraine,” he said.

Yanukovych also said he was “wrong” to have invited Russian forces to enter Crimea after he fled Ukraine.

Moscow denies troops that took control of the Black Sea Peninsula were under its command, something dismissed by the US as “Putin’s fiction”.