Brussels: NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen called on Friday on Russia to halt its "illegal" military actions in Ukraine, after the West accused Moscow of direct involvement in the conflict.
"We condemn in the strongest terms Russia's continued disregard of its international obligations," Rasmussen said after an emergency NATO meeting on the crisis.
"We urge Russia to cease its illegal military actions, stop its support to armed separatists, and take immediate and verifiable steps towards de-escalation of this grave crisis."
NATO yesterday said Russia had sent at least 1,000 troops to fight with pro-Moscow rebels in Ukraine, along with air defence systems, artillery, tanks and armoured vehicles, and had massed 20,000 troops near the border.
Rasmussen also said that NATO was not closing the door to Ukraine's possible membership after Kiev said it was seeking to join the alliance, a move certain to anger its former masters in Moscow.