Usual accusations of destabilization of the situation and threats of new sanctions were spoken out in Russia’s address, although NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen admitted that the peace plan suggested by the Russian side was “exactly what we need”, if it would be implemented.
Meanwhile, the main discussion regarding relations with Russia will take place on Friday, when NATO will be looking into ways of enforcing its security “amid the ongoing situation in Europe”.
Ukraine’s crisis settlement
“Let me stress that we welcome all efforts to find a peaceful solution to the crisis in Ukraine,” Rasmussen said. “Having said that, I also have to say that what counts is what is actually happening on the ground. And we are still witnessing unfortunately Russian involvement in destabilizing the situation in eastern Ukraine.” The NATO’s chief urged Russia to stop the confrontation in Ukraine and turn to peace.
Talking about the ways to resolve the crisis in Ukraine, he noted that no one wanted a war or an armed conflict. “We do believe that the best way forward is to find a political solution. And to facilitate such a political solution, I firmly believe that the international community must respond determinately if Russia was to intervene further in Ukraine,” he said, adding that it would be necessary to “respond through deeper, broader, tougher economic sanctions that would definitely hurt Russian economy and isolate Russia further”.
Rasmussen said he pinned hope on the implementation of the peace plan suggested by Russia on Wednesday, September 3, which consists of seven points. “That's exactly what we need: a constructive political process,” he said. However, referring to the local situation and the way the crisis was developing, he admitted that the alliance was being careful so far. “If recent statements from President Putin represent a genuine effort to find a political solution, I would welcome it,” Rasmussen said.
Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko said he was “ready to do my best to stop the war”. He expressed “careful optimism” over the September 5 session of the contact group in Minsk and ceasefire in Ukraine.” “Under these circumstances, it is very important for the OSCE to monitor the situation; it is necessary to seek the release of all hostages and ensure control over the Russian border,” Poroshenko said.
Independent, sovereign, and stable Ukraine that would be committed to democracy and respect for law is a key to Euro-Atlantic security and it is a goal that is shared by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, Rasmussen noted.
Ukraine’s accessing NATO?
As for the possible terms of Ukraine’s accession to NATO, Poroshenko noted that this issue would be decided by the people of Ukraine, when the country would correspond to the alliance’s requirements.
German Minister of Foreign Affairs Frank-Walter Steinmeier believes a progress is needed in negotiations between Russia and Ukraine in order to stop the sanctions’ spiral.
Meanwhile, Italy’s Prime Minister Matteo Renzi believes NATO must help find a political solution for the crisis in Ukraine, but avoid being perceived as an additional factor fuelling the conflict. He urged NATO to be careful in resolving the conflict in Ukraine.
Protests in Wales
The first day of the summit was accompanied by the largest anti-military rallies in Wales’ recent history. About 500 protesters with a slogan “No new wars, No to NATO” were walking on the central streets of Newport near the Celtic Manor Hotel, where the meeting was taking place.