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NATO Chief Says Alliance, Moscow Still At Odds Over Ukraine

  • RFE/RL

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg: NATO allies "reiterated their strong support for Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity," and insisted that they would never "recognize Russia's illegal and illegitimate annexation of Crimea."

BRUSSELS -- NATO and Russia still "have profound disagreements on the crisis" in Ukraine, the head of the Western military alliance says.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg made the comments after the NATO-Russia Council, their main forum for dialogue, held more than three hours of talks in Brussels on December 19.

It was only the third such meeting of the council in 2016.

NATO has suspended all practical cooperation with Russia after Moscow's seizure and annexation of Ukraine's Crimea Peninsula in March 2014.

Stoltenberg said NATO allies "reiterated their strong support for Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity," and insisted that they would never "recognize Russia's illegal and illegitimate annexation of Crimea."

The meeting also looked at ways to avoid incidents and accidents between Russian and NATO forces.

Russia has annoyed NATO with snap military exercises or by buzzing the alliance's ships and aircraft with fighter jets, as well as what NATO sees as aggressive use of propaganda.

Douglas Lute, the U.S. ambassador to NATO, told ABC News on December 18 that "I don't believe that anyone in Russia today intends to attack NATO."

But Lute added, "I worry about attempts by Russia...to influence political campaigns, flooding allied capitals, the news media with misinformation or disinformation and all these with an attempt to fragment internally our societies, perhaps distort our political processes, and to sow discontent and a lack of cohesion across the allies."

With reporting by Rikard Jozwiak in Brussels, AP, and Reuters
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