Moscow Considers NATO's Claims About Russian 'Aggression' in Ukraine Groundless
17:14 GMT 26.02.2022 (Updated: 19:03 GMT 26.02.2022)
© AP Photo / Olivier MatthysFlags of member nations flap in the wind outside NATO headquarters in Brussels on Friday, Aug. 29, 2014.
© AP Photo / Olivier Matthys
The US and its allies in Europe and Asia condemned the Russian military operation in Ukraine as an unprovoked "act of aggression" and "invasion," slapping Moscow with new sanctions and promising to send additional military aid to Kiev. The current crisis in Ukraine is the culmination of a situation which has festered for over eight years.
NATO has no grounds to call the ongoing Russian military operation in Ukraine "aggression," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova has said.
"In the context of NATO countries' inability to negotiate and their lack of desire to truly strengthen security in Europe on the basis of the principle of equal and indivisible security, we consider their attempts to accuse us of aggression to be groundless," Zakharova said on Saturday in a commentary on Friday's extraordinary virtual summit of NATO heads of state to discuss the Ukraine crisis.
"Before calling Russia to account for its operation to demilitarize and denazify Ukraine, the nations of the North Atlantic bloc should answer for their military adventurism, as well as their inaction on the matter of encouraging the regime in Kiev to peacefully resolve the Donbass problem," the spokeswoman said.
According to Zakharova, NATO leaders at the summit expressed all possible support for Ukraine, "a country which, with the the connivance of the West, has become a hotbed of Nazi ideology."
The spokeswoman went on to accuse the Western bloc of "hypocrisy" related to the alleged destruction of the foundation for peace in Europe caused by Russia's actions in Ukraine.
"By whose hands was this done? Wasn't it the NATO countries that looked on silently as the US destroyed the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty? They stood by when Washington unilaterally withdrew from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. They allowed the Americans to quit the Open Skies Treaty, which made that agreement worthless as an effective mechanism for controlling military activities," Zakharova said.
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"Was it not the NATO countries that took part in the bombing of Yugoslavia, the attack on Libya, the invasion of Iraq? For 20 years, they led the situation in Afghanistan to total degradation, and when they ran away, they left behind weapons worth billions of dollars," the spokeswoman said.
"For eight years, Western nations have watched passively the killing and abuse of thousands of civilians in southeastern Ukraine. Effectively, they became accomplices to the long-term genocide of the inhabitants of the Lugansk and Donetsk People's Republics," Zakharova alleged.
"NATO's intention to continue pumping weapons into Ukraine, including air defence systems, speaks of one thing: the United States and its allies are not interested in resolving the crisis in this country," she said.
The Western bloc continues to build up its military forces and infrastructure near Russia, and engaging in the military buildup of alliance members near Russia, "using their resources to develop plans to 'contain' Russia. We cannot ignore such a confrontational course toward our country. Especially when our key security concerns remain unanswered," Zakharova said.
NATO Vows to 'Hold Russia Accountable'
At Friday's extraordinary summit, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg called on Russia to "stop this senseless war, immediately cease its assault, withdraw all its forces from Ukraine, and turn back to the path of dialogue and turn away from aggression."
In a joint communique published following the meeting, the alliance accused Moscow of carrying out a "long-planned," "brutal and wholly unprovoked and unjustified" attack against the "independent, peaceful and democratic" nation of Ukraine, and alleged that Russia had "fundamentally shattered" peace on the European continent.
"The world will hold Russia, as well as Belarus, accountable for their actions. We call on all states to condemn this unconscionable attack unreservedly. No one should be fooled by the Russian government's barrage of lies," the communique said.
The bloc went on to accuse Russia of rejecting "the path of diplomacy and dialogue," and warning that Moscow would be made to pay "a severe price" for its actions, "both economically and politically," for years to come.
Russia and its Donbass allies began a large scale military operation in Ukraine on Thursday to "demilitarize" and "denazify" the country after continued Ukrainian shelling attacks on the Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics even after Moscow's recognition of the former Ukrainian breakaways as sovereign nations and the signing of a security treaty with them last Monday.
The current emergency is the culmination of a security crisis that enveloped Ukraine following a violent, US and EU-backed coup in Kiev in February 2014, and has festered in the form of a long-running civil war in the country's eastern regions.