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NATO Chief Voices Concerns About Events in Eastern Ukraine

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NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen voiced grave concern about the situation in eastern Ukraine during a conference of the Atlantic alliance in Paris on Tuesday.

MOSCOW, April 8 (RIA Novosti) – NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen voiced grave concern about the situation in eastern Ukraine during a conference of the Atlantic alliance in Paris on Tuesday.

“Events in eastern Ukraine are a great concern, I urge Russia to step back. Any further move to eastern Ukraine would represent a serious escalation rather than de-escalation,” Rasmussen said.

The secretary general stressed that Russia’s decision to intervene in Ukraine will turn into a historic mistake and might lead to the country’s international isolation.

Rallies in support of Ukraine’s federalization have been on the rise in the eastern Ukrainian cities of Donetsk, Kharkiv and Lugansk over the past two days. Demonstrators carrying Russian national flags are urging authorities to allow their regions to hold referendums to determine their status within the country.

The rallies have been taking place in eastern Ukraine every weekend since March, with participants refusing to recognize the legitimacy of the new regional governors appointed following the overthrow of President Viktor Yanukovych. The demonstrators have periodically managed to take temporary control over municipal buildings and protestors in Donetsk and Lugansk elected their own leaders, who were later detained by authorities.

On Monday, supporters of Ukraine’s federalization in Kharkiv and Donetsk announced the creation of independent people's republics in the two regions.

In February, the Ukrainian parliament backed by far-right movements ousted President Viktor Yanukovych, amended the constitution and scheduled an early presidential election for May 25.

Moscow has described the uprising in Kiev as an illegitimate fascist coup and a military seizure of power, which resulted in it taking steps to protect ethnic Russians in Ukraine, including the reunification of Crimea. It blames the ongoing crisis in the country on Ukrainian nationalists and their aggressive rhetoric.

Moscow has insisted that a federal form of government is the only way out of the protracted political stalemate in Ukraine, currently a unitary state which is de-facto split into a Ukrainian-speaking west and a Russian-speaking east and south.

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