Ukraine’s bid to join Nato may trigger new Cold War
BRITAIN risks being sucked into a war with Russia after Ukraine said yesterday that it wants to join Nato.
As Germany warned that the crisis is “out of control”, Ukraine’s prime minister Arseny Yatseniuk said he will seek the protection of the 28-nation alliance following months of conflict with Russia.
Ahead of next week’s Nato summit in Wales, Ukraine’s delegate Ihor Dolhov said: “What we need is more assistance, including military. We can protect ourselves but need assistance to stop aggression.”
Nato has ruled out military intervention following Russia’s annexation of Crimea and support for paramilitary rebels. But if Ukraine joined the alliance it could accelerate the dawn of a new Cold War.
Russia would see the move as provocative because an attack on one Nato member is seen as an attack on them all. President Obama and Nato secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen accused Russia of sending troops and tanks into the Ukraine. Nato also released satellite pictures showing the “violation” of Ukrainian territory.
Britain believes Russia has sent 1,000 troops, 100 tanks and 100 artillery pieces as well as anti-tank weapons and missile launchers.
Mr Obama said it was clear that Moscow had “deliberately and repeatedly violated the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine”.
He said: “The violence is encouraged by Russia, the separatists are trained by Russia, they are armed by Russia, they are funded by Russia.”
The Russian tanks filmed rumbling through Ukraine were merely “a continuation of what’s been taking place for months”, he added.
Nato’s Mr Rasmussen said: “Despite Moscow’s hollow denials, it is now clear that Russian troops and equipment have illegally crossed the border into eastern and southeastern Ukraine.
“We urge Russia to cease its illegal military actions, stop its support to armed separatists and take immediate and verifiable steps towards deescalation of this crisis.”
He said Nato would fully respect any decision by the Ukrainian parliament to seek membership.
As he spoke British troops began Nato exercise Sabre Junction in Poland, one of a series designed to reassure Nato member states once in the old Warsaw Pact.
Nato members shied away from letting Ukraine join, with Holland saying it would not help to solve the crisis which has led to 2,593 people being killed since April.
Russian president Vladimir Putin compared Kiev’s offensive against separatists in Ukraine to the Nazi siege of Leningrad.
He said: “It sadly reminds me of the events of the Second World War, when German fascist occupants surrounded our cities.”
A military attache in Kiev examines a Russian tank yesterday after it was seized from separatists by Ukrainian forces