World Bulletin/News Desk
NATO announced a full review of its cooperation with Russia on Wednesday to try to pressure Moscow into backing down on Ukraine and said it would suspend planning for a joint mission linked to Syrian chemical weapons.
NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said alliance officials would no longer hold lower-level meetings with their Russian counterparts, while stepping up engagement with the civilian and military leadership of Ukraine, not a NATO member.
"The situation in Ukraine presents serious implications for the security of the Euro-Atlantic area," he said.
Under a U.S.-Russia deal reached after a chemical attack killed hundreds of people around Damascus last year, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government should have handed over 1,300 tonnes of toxic chemicals by Feb. 5 for destruction abroad.
NATO's ties with Russia have improved since the Cold War ended but deteriorated following the defence alliance's eastward expansion to take in former Communist-ruled countries in eastern Europe and Moscow's war in Georgia in 2008.
The alliance briefly suspended formal cooperation on security threats after the war but resumed it in 2009.
Since then, it cooperates with Moscow in a range of areas, including the alliance's military mission in Afghanistan, in counter-narcotics projects in Afghanistan and in combating terrorism and piracy.
Diplomats said it would be difficult for the 28-nation alliance to cut back ties in Afghanistan as NATO prepares to end combat operations there by the end of 2014 amid a fragile security situation.Last Mod: 05 Mart 2014, 23:01