Russia troops not withdrawing: NATO's Rasmussen

NATO leader refuted reports of pull-back from Ukraine's eastern border

NATO leader refuted reports of pull-back from Ukraine's eastern border

BRUSSELS - NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has refuted reports that Russia is pulling back its forces from the Ukrainian border.

"Unfortunately I can't confirm that Russia is withdrawing its troops," Rasmussen told reporters in Brussels on Tuesday. "This is not what we have seen."

He spoke before a NATO meeting of foreign ministers in the Belgian capital.

Rasmussen said Russia's actions were unacceptable, adding that the meeting would discuss on what grounds ally countries can cooperate with Moscow in the future. He also accused Russia of violating NATO's principles, saying relations can never be the same again.

The NATO Secretary General said the presence of Russian troops did not help the situation in Crimea and asked for a withdrawal.

Rasmussen told reporters that NATO is evaluating options to strengthen common defense, saying plans included an increase in the frequency in military exercises and deploying troops.

"... but the best way is through diplomatic dialogue and nobody wants to see any power play," he added.

Rasmussen stressed that NATO will not hesitate to take more action if necessary, adding: "The world has to understand that we are determined to actively protect our allies and people."

The ministerial meeting will focus on Russia's actions over Ukraine and preparations for NATO’s Summit in the United Kingdom in September, as well as its relations with partners and the International Security Assistance Force’s (ISAF) operation in Afghanistan.

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