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NATO suspends meetings with Russia for refusing to withdraw from Ukraine

‘Russia’s actions have consequences,’ NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said in Brussels March 5, 2014.

Geert Vanden Wijngaert/Associated Press

The NATO alliance is suspending all meetings with Russia and reviewing its military ties with Moscow as a result of Vladimir Putin's refusal to withdraw from Ukraine's Crimea peninsula.

"These steps send a clear message: Russia's actions have consequences," Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Secretary-General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, told reporters in Brussels Wednesday after a council meeting with Russia.

NATO will also increase military assistance to Ukraine, Mr. Rasmussen said, adding that he would meet Thursday with Ukraine's President.

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"We will strengthen our efforts to build the capacity of the Ukrainian military, including with more joint training and exercises," he said.

As a result of Moscow's intransigence, Mr. Rasmussen said, NATO is cutting Russia out of what was supposed to be the alliance's first joint mission: the military escort for a U.S. ship that will help to destroy Syria's chemical weapons.

"This will not affect the destruction of chemical weapons, but Russia will not be involved in the escort of the U.S. vessel," he said.

Mr. Rasmussen said NATO, which was originally formed in the early Cold War years, is not closing the door to more talks with Russia.

But he said it believes that Russia is violating its obligations under international law.

"At the same time we have decided to intensify our partnership with Ukraine, and strengthen our co-operation to support democratic reforms," he said.

We will step up our engagement with the Ukrainian civilian and military leadership," the NATO leader said. "This will complement the international efforts to support the people of Ukraine as they shape their future."

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Russia's envoy to NATO condemned the alliance's move. "This meeting proved that NATO still has a double-standard policy. And Cold War stereotypes are still applied towards Russia," Alexander Grushko told reporters.

With a report from Reuters.

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Parliamentary reporter

Steven Chase has covered federal politics in Ottawa for The Globe since mid-2001, arriving there a few months before 9/11. He previously worked in the paper's Vancouver and Calgary bureaus. Prior to that, he reported on Alberta politics for the Calgary Herald and the Calgary Sun, and on national issues for Alberta Report. More

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