While negotiations take place in Eastern Ukraine Russia and NATO remain at odds over the extent and purpose of Moscow’s military presence on its border with Ukraine.
Moscow says that it will not intervene militarily in Ukraine. However, it already has, retorts Kiev – in Crimea. But when it comes to the situation in Eastern Ukraine, Russia’s leadership also says it reserves the right to protect Russian speakers.
And with rising tensions over Russian troop movements and gas supplies, Moscow and Western governments accuse each other of trying to force Ukraine to come under their influence.
“It goes without saying, that a firm guarantee of retaining the non-aligned status of Ukraine provided by its constitution, will be required.” Says Sergei Lavrov, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s comments indicate the importance of Ukraine – formerly part of the Soviet Union – to Russia’s leaders. They fear it joining NATO or having closer association with the European Union.
Russia Denies Military Build-up in UkraineWhile negotiations take place in Eastern Ukraine Russia and NATO remain at odds over the extent and purpose of Moscow's military presence on its border with Ukraine.
But there are those in Moscow that say intervening in Eastern Ukraine would be a big mistake.
“Russia would eventually like to see a strong Ukrainian state, which would have a neutral status, meaning it would not be a member of NATO or any other military bloc,” Says Dmitry Polikano from the Russian Centre for Policy Studies. “ And then Russia would feel safe because it will have some sort of breach or buffer zone between itself and the west” he adds.
NATO has been defending the accuracy of satellite images it says show Russian troops massed on the Ukrainian border. But though Moscow says it has no plans to intervene, that is exactly what Kiev fears.