Russia concerned by planned regional military alliance
Iran Press TV
Thu Feb 5, 2015 5:31PM
Russia has voiced concern over the planned formation of a multinational military alliance among Ukraine, Poland and Lithuania amid rising tensions between Moscow and the West over the crisis in Ukraine's east.
"The goals of establishing such a structure are a source of concern. The army of Ukraine, as Russian President Vladimir Putin said, already looks like a foreign legion," Alexander Lukashevich, the Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman, said on Thursday.
The Russian official further criticized attempts to "internationalize" the turmoil in Ukraine, adding that the establishment of such a military alliance "rather than searching for a political solution is absolutely counterproductive."
In September 2014, the defense ministers of Ukraine, Poland and Lithuania agreed to form a multinational military brigade called "LITPOLUKRBRIG" with the declared aim of strengthening regional cooperation.
The agreement is set to be implemented in two years.
On January 26, Putin said the Ukrainian army is "NATO's foreign legion" and does not pursue Ukraine's national interests.
"In essence, this is already not an army, but a foreign legion, in this case NATO's foreign legion, that certainly does not pursue the goal of defending Ukraine's national interests," added the Russian leader.
Poland and Lithuania are members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
Trading blame for Ukraine conflict
NATO-Moscow relations have been extremely tense in recent months. NATO and Kiev accuse the Kremlin of supporting pro-Russia forces in east Ukraine. Russia categorically denies the allegations, saying NATO is responsible for the flare-up in Ukraine.
The two mainly Russian-speaking regions of Donetsk and Lugansk in eastern Ukraine have been the scene of deadly clashes between pro-Russia protesters and the Ukrainian army since Kiev's military operation started in April 2014 in a bid to crush the protests.
Violence intensified in May 2014, after the two flashpoint regions held local referendums in which their residents voted overwhelmingly in favor of independence from Ukraine and joining the Russian Federation.
The fighting has left more than 5,300 people killed, 12,200 wounded and 1.5 million displaced, the United Nations says.
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