April 7, 2017

Russia accuses NATO of ‘slander’ as U.S. denounces ‘Russian aggression’


Russia has accused the United States and its allies of “slander” as the U.S. top diplomat and Pentagon chief denounced Russia’s actions in Ukraine and elsewhere.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told his counterparts at NATO on March 31 that the United States was committed to Ukraine’s territorial integrity and that U.S. sanctions against Russia will remain in place “until Moscow reverses the actions that triggered our sanctions.”

“We do not and will not accept Russian efforts to change the borders of the territory of Ukraine,” said Mr. Tillerson.

The secretary of state added that Washington “will continue to hold Russia accountable to its Minsk commitments,” referring to the Minsk process to resolve the Ukraine crisis.

Tillerson was attending his first meeting of NATO foreign affairs ministers amid worries about U.S. President Donald Trump’s stated desire for closer relations with Moscow.

He told Ukrainian Foreign Affairs Minister Pavlo Klimkin, who was also at the meeting, that American and NATO support for Ukraine remained “steadfast” after “Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.”

Russia responded by accusing NATO of spreading “the myth of a ‘Russian threat’ ” and “the slander of ‘Russian aggression’ ” as a way to unify its members.

“The U.S. and its allies are obsessed with building up their military presence on our borders, justifying it with the need to ‘restrain Russia,’ ” the Russian Foreign Affairs Ministry said in a statement.

Also on March 31, U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis told reporters in London that “Russian’s violations of international law are now a matter of record – from what happened with Crimea to other aspects of their behavior in mucking around inside other peoples’ elections.”

With reporting by AFP, AP, Reuters, TASS and Interfax.

Copyright 2017, RFE/RL Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave. NW, Washington DC 20036; www.rferl.org (for full text see http://www.rferl.org/a/russia-accuses-nato-united-states-slander-ukraine-aggression/28404566.html).