NATO warns that tensions on Ukraine border building

Growth Threat

The standoff over Ukraine poses a threat to a global economy that’s already “too weak for comfort,” International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde said today. The Washington-based IMF is preparing to lead a $27 billion global bailout for cash-strapped Ukraine.

Shrugging off U.S. and European sanctions, Putin has justified the annexation of Crimea, a region with a majority of Russian speakers with historic ties to Moscow, away from Ukraine as righting a historical wrong that split the province from Russia when the Soviet Union collapsed.

NATO has decided to halt “all practical cooperation” with Russia, Rasmussen said yesterday. Russia condemned the NATO decision, saying this would hurt joint efforts to fight terrorism, piracy and other global problems.

“It’s not hard to guess who will benefit from halting the joint work of Russia and NATO in countering modern threats,” the Foreign Ministry said on its website. “In any case, it certainly won’t be Russia and the members of NATO.”

U.S. Navy

Options being considered by Breedlove also include putting an additional U.S. warship in the Black Sea, beefing up previously scheduled NATO exercises and improving the readiness of the alliance’s 13,000-member rapid-response force, according to an American defense official who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss military planning.

“We directed our military commanders to develop additional measures to enhance our collective defense and deterrence against any threat of aggression,” Rasmussen said.

Russia is pressuring Ukraine to change its constitution to cede more autonomy to its regions and enshrine Russian as a second official language. After a deadly clash between Ukrainian police and far right activists as well as confrontations between pro-Russian and pro-Kiev protesters last month, the parliament in Kiev voted yesterday for a resolution backing the immediate disarmament of illegal military groups.

“The two sides are talking totally different languages,” Timothy Ash, a London-based economist for emerging markets at Standard Bank Group Ltd., said in e-mailed comments today. “While the battle for Crimea may have been lost, the stealth war for Ukraine is only just beginning.”

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