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MOSCOW, November 5. /TASS/. Steps toward the strengthening of cooperation between NATO and Ukraine are made for the benefit of supporters of the military solution to the ongoing standoff in the ex-Soviet republic and in no way provide for the peaceful resolution of the conflict, Alexander Grushko, Russia’s permanent NATO envoy, said.
“We know that within the frames of the so-called ‘special partnership’ NATO plans to activate its cooperation with Ukraine,” Grushko said in an interview with Russia’s Kommersant business daily.
According to the Russian diplomat, the issue is about NATO’s regular joint military drills with Ukraine, about assistance for Kiev in the reformation of the security sphere, formation of trust funds for reformations in the military sphere as well as about the assistance in the development of the national security strategy.
Last week outgoing secretary-general of the North Atlantic alliance, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, said that Moscow wanted to establish a zone of Russian influence near western borders and supported “frozen conflicts” to this aim.
In particular, Rasmussen said, Russia backs the “frozen conflicts” in Moldova, Georgia’s breakaway republics of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, as well as in Crimea and Donbass, in eastern Ukraine.
The NATO chief said the military alliance would never agree to the emergence of a new “frozen conflict” in eastern Ukraine, urging the member-states to make every effort to ensure the peaceful solution of the Ukrainian crisis.
Rasmussen said Russia should hold a dialogue with NATO if it chooses this way itself. He also said Moscow poses no threat to NATO.
Grushko said, however, in mid-October that the North Atlantic alliance exploited the Ukrainian crisis to promote its own geopolitical interests, adding that NATO’s role in Ukraine was exceptionally destructive.
According to the UN, more than 4,000 people have been killed and hundreds of thousands have fled Ukraine’s southeast as a result of clashes between Ukrainian troops and local militias in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions during Kiev’s military operation, conducted since mid-April, to regain control over the breakaway territories, which call themselves the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s republics.