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NATO ministers order end to co-operation with Moscow, plans for reinforcing eastern security

BRUSSELS - NATO's foreign ministers have ordered an end to civilian and military co-operation with Russia and told their generals and admirals to quickly devise ways to better protect alliance members that feel threatened by Vladimir Putin's Kremlin. The 28-member alliance, the keystone of U.S. and European security, was reacting to its most serious crisis in years: Russia's unilateral annexation of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula.

Russia warns Kiev against NATO integration

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia warned Ukraine against integration with NATO on Tuesday, saying Kiev's previous attempts to move closer to the bloc had strained ties with Russia and caused problems between Moscow and the defense alliance. "(Past attempts) led to a freezing of Russian-Ukrainian political contacts, a headache between NATO and Russia and ... to a division in Ukrainian society," the Russian Foreign Ministry said as NATO foreign ministers gathered for a meeting in Brussels.

No NATO confirmation of Russian troop retreat from Ukraine border

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen on Tuesday said he could not confirm whether Russian troops had withdrawn from the Ukrainian border as announced by the Kremlin. "Unfortunately I cannot confirm that Russia is withdrawing its troops; this is not what we have seen," Rasmussen told journalists before a NATO foreign ministers meeting on the crisis in Ukraine. arp/ccr/yad

NATO to strengthen east in face of resurgent Russia

NATO foreign ministers will gather in Brussels on Tuesday as the defence alliance seeks to reinforce its eastern frontier against a resurgent Russia emboldened by the annexation of Crimea. In a regular two-day meeting of the 28 ministers, including US Secretary of State John Kerry, NATO will confirm the suspension of cooperation with Moscow, a decision made on March 5 after Russian troops grabbed Crimea from Ukraine. "Reassuring allies is most important for NATO," said Douglas Lute, the US ambassador to the Brussels-based Western alliance, in a pre-meeting briefing.

NATO to hold air drills over Baltics this week

NATO will hold air drills over the ex-Soviet Baltic countries on Tuesday -- an annual exercise that has gained added significance this year amid growing concerns over Russia's territorial ambitions. "It is yet further proof of the alliance's solidarity and commitment," Lithuanian Defence Minister Juozas Olekas told AFP on Monday. The two-day exercise will involve American F-15 fighter jets and NATO's AWACS reconnaissance aircraft, as well as JAS-39 Gripen combat jets from non-NATO member Sweden.

Merchant ship shot at in Strait of Hormuz Sunday- NATO

DUBAI (Reuters) - Unknown assailants in a speedboat shot at a merchant vessel as it sailed through the Strait of Hormuz between Iran and Oman on Sunday, the NATO Shipping Centre (NSC) said. The unidentified merchant ship reported being shot at twice from close range from a speedboat carrying six people armed with machine guns, on Sunday morning. It repelled the attack with hoses and the vessel and crew are safe, NSC said.

Germany mulls military support for NATO's eastern European states

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany is considering offering military support to some eastern European members of the NATO defense alliance in response to Russia's seizure of Crimea, news magazine Der Spiegel reported at the weekend. Germany, whose diplomatic clout falls far short of its economic might on the world stage, has said it wants to take a more active international role and Chancellor Angela Merkel and her foreign minister have been active in trying to resolve the Ukraine crisis.

Germany mulls military support for NATO's eastern European states

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany is considering offering military support to some eastern European members of the NATO defense alliance in response to Russia's seizure of Crimea, news magazine Der Spiegel reported at the weekend. Germany, whose diplomatic clout falls far short of its economic might on the world stage, has said it wants to take a more active international role and Chancellor Angela Merkel and her foreign minister have been active in trying to resolve the Ukraine crisis.

Baltic states hail a decade in NATO amid Ukraine crisis

Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania on Saturday marked a decade since joining NATO just as rising concerns over Russia's territorial ambitions in eastern Europe have reinforced the importance of the Western military alliance. Two US fighter jets roared across sunny skies in Lithuania as President Dalia Grybauskaite hailed NATO membership as "vitally important" to Baltic security. "Our expectations about Lithuania's security have been fulfilled. NATO partners have demonstrated that we do not face threats alone," she said.

Norway's Stoltenberg to be handed top NATO post

Norway's former premier Jens Stoltenberg was due to be handed the top NATO post at a meeting of the alliance's 28 ambassadors on Friday, a diplomatic source said. The 55-year-old, an economist by training, will step in to replace Dane Anders Fogh Rasmussen in September for a four-year term, the source said. The decision will be taken at a meeting of the North Atlantic Council (NAC), which is the main political decision-making body of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). ccr/jap/jz
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