LUXEMBOURG, April 15 (RIA Novosti) - NATO is not discussing a military response to the situation in Ukraine and is counting on political and diplomatic decisions to resolve the crisis, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Tuesday.
"We are not discussing military options. We do believe that the right way forward is to find a political diplomatic solution. However, we're focused militarily on strengthening defense of our allies. That's our core task," Rasmussen said before a meeting with EU defense ministers.
"We're right now considering further steps to strengthen our collective defense. As I indicated, that also includes what I would call appropriate deployments," he added, commenting on the current agenda.
"But it's a bit too early to go into details as to how we will in concrete terms strengthen collective defense. But no one should doubt our determination to ensure intensive defense and protection of all allies," Rasmussen stated with no further details on the alliance's prospective strategy.
Speaking at prior meetings the Secretary-General also voiced concerns about clashes in eastern Ukraine between pro-federalization protesters and forces loyal to the government, calling on Russia to "de-escalate the crisis and pull back its large number of troops, including special forces, from the area around Ukraine's border," while warning that "any further Russian military interference" would only deepen Russia's international isolation.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov rejected Western accusations that Russia was behind the crisis in southeastern Ukraine, saying neither Russian security agents nor soldiers have been deployed to the region.
The Ministry said that NATO is attempting to use the Ukrainian crisis as an imaginary threat to unite the alliance's members, pushing for Russia's isolation.
Updated headline, quote in paras. 2, 3