MUNICH -- NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov have sparred at a major conference on global security over the future of Ukraine and NATO's planned missile shield.
Rasmussen told the annual Munich Security Conference on February 1 that Ukraine must have the freedom to choose its own path, but Lavrov charged European politicians with helping to destabilize Ukraine.
"What does incitement of protests have to do with promoting democracy?" Lavrov asked.
"Why don't we condemn those who seize and hold government buildings, attack the police, torch the police, use racist and anti-Semitic and Nazi slogans," Lavrov added.
The so-called Euromaidan protests were sparked in late November by a government decision to abandon closer EU ties in favor of Russia, and included the occupation of government buildings.
But the most serious violence came after the enactment of strict laws against protests in mid-January that have since been revoked.
The NATO chief also said the alliance and Russia are not meeting their potential for cooperation despite their strategic partnership.
He said NATO is concerned when it hears Moscow describe its planned missile-defense system as an offensive weapon endangering Russian security.
Lavrov said that "when a nuclear shield is combined with a nuclear sword, it is very tempting to use this new capability offensively."