Zee Media Bureau/Supriya Jha
Moscow: The recent tension in eastern Ukraine seems to have further embittered the ties between the NATO and Russia which were already strained by Crimea annexation.
Situation continues to remain tense in eastern Ukraine cities of Donetsk, Kharkiv and Luhansk where pro-Russian activists stormed government buildings on Sunday night in an act that reeked of Russian possible intent to invade further into Ukraine.
NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen has warned Russia against committing a “historic mistake” of further intervention in Ukraine.
"I urge Russia to step back and not escalate the situation in east Ukraine," Mr Rasmussen said in Paris.
Calling for a “genuine dialogue with the Ukrainian authorities", he urged Russia to "pull back the tens of thousands of troops" gathered on Ukraine`s borders.
NATO chief`s remarks followed the alliance`s decision to impose restrictions on Russian mission representatives that included denying them access military bloc`s headquarters in Brussels, Belgium.
Also, last week NATO had announced that it was halting all practical cooperation with Russia.
Russia has reacted saying it reflected the alliance`s inability to do away with “cold war mentality”.
Such restrictive measures "confirm once again that the alliance is not capable of overcoming the `cold war` mentality and prefers the language of sanctions over dialogue," Russia said in a statement as per Xinhua.
Meanwhile, US Secretary of State John Kerry accused Russian special forces of being "the catalyst behind the chaos of the last 24 hours". the
Recent events in eastern Ukraine`s Donetsk, Luhansk and Kharkiv regions "could potentially be a contrived pretext for military intervention just as we saw in Crimea", he said addressing a US Senate panel.
Kerry had yesterday made a phone call to Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov and warned that any further efforts to destabilise the ex-Soviet bloc would invite repercussions for Russia.
The recent flare-up in eastern Ukraine comes just a couple of weeks after Crimea takeover by Russia.
Though in Kharkiv, Ukraine police managed to clear the government buildings of separatists, in Luhansk, the rebels had weapons and were still occupying the buildings. In Donetsk, the separatists on Monday claimed the region as "people`s republic" and declared a referendum call for secession from Ukraine on 11 May.
Crimea, the Black Sea Peninsula has undergone a similar referendum on March 16, and has now been annexed by Russia.