21:57 GMT13 June 2021
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    The alleged role of Russia in the Ukrainian crisis and the reunification of Crimea with the country are to blame for the suspension of NATO-Russia cooperation, the bloc's principal Spokesperson Oana Lungescu told Sputnik on Sunday.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik), Alexander Mosesov On Saturday, Russian Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov stated that the armed conflict between government forces and independence supporters in eastern Ukraine has led to a collapse of all positive aspects of Russia's relations with NATO. He added that the bloc's increase in military activities near the Russian border is unprecedented and unjustifiable.

    Lungescu said that NATO suspended practical cooperation with Moscow amid last year's "illegal and illegitimate" reunification of Crimea with Russia, that took place following a peninsula-wide referendum.

    The spokeswoman added that Russia's "continued aggressive actions in Ukraine" hinders cooperation. Russia has repeatedly denied providing military aid to eastern Ukraine's independence militias, despite the West's accusations.

    "Since the end of the Cold War, NATO has strived to build a partnership with Russia, including on fighting terrorism and building security in Afghanistan," Lungescu said. She added that the partnership broke down because of what NATO sees as Russia's "violating international law and breaching its commitments under the NATO-Russia Founding Act."

    NATO began to boost its military presence close to Russia's western borders as the crisis in Ukraine escalated in early 2014. Last month, Russia argued that NATO's buildup in Eastern Europe violates the 1997 Russia-NATO Founding Act on mutual relations, envisaging that the bloc will not permanently station substantial combat forces near the Russian border.

    NATO replied that its forces are rotational and their presence is below the definition of substantial.


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