NATO fears Russian troop build-up along border with Ukraine

An armed Russian soldier (left) guards a Ukrainian officer at Belbek. Photo: 22 March 2014 Ukrainian soldiers in Belbek were given an ultimatum to leave the base on Saturday.
NATO\’s military commander in Europe has issued a warning about the build-up of Russian forces on Ukraine\’s border.
Supreme Allied Commander Europe Gen Philip Breedlove said Nato was in particular concerned about the threat to Moldova\’s Trans-Dniester region.
"There is absolutely sufficient (Russian) force postured on the eastern border of Ukraine to run to Transdniestria if the decision was made to do that, and that is very worrisome,\’\’ NATO\’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe, U.S. Air Force General Philip Breedlove, told an event held by the German Marshall Fund think-tank. "The (Russian) force that is at the Ukrainian border now to the east is very, very sizeable and very, very ready.\’\’
The warning comes a day after Russian troops fired shots and used armored vehicles to smash through the gates of Belbek air base Saturday. Ukrainian forces offered no resistance. They sang their country\’s national anthem before putting their weapons into storage.
Russian forces also took over a Ukrainian naval base in Novofedorovka.
Earlier Sunday, Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko on Sunday blasted Russia\’s annexation of Ukraine\’s Crimea as setting a "bad precedent.\’\’
A close ally of Moscow, Lukashenko told reporters in Minsk that Crimea was now "de facto\’\’ a part of the Russian Federation.  He nonetheless said that Ukraine should remain "a single, indivisible, integral, non-bloc state.\’\’
British Foreign Secretary William Hague, writing in the Telegraph newspaper, said Britain and its allies must be ready for different relations with Russia than what they have enjoyed during the last 20 years. Hague said this would include restricting military cooperation and arms sales to Russia.
Meanwhile, Kyiv is bracing for a unity rally Sunday, a day after Russian forces seized the last major Ukrainian military base in Crimea.
In Kyiv Saturday, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon praised Ukraine\’s interim prime minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, for his "real leadership." Ban said he admired the prime minister\’s call for "inclusiveness and reconciliation."
Also in Kyiv Saturday was Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper — the first G7 leader to visit Mr. Yatsenyuk in Ukraine. Harper said Canadians are impressed by the restraint Ukraine is showing despite what he calls Russia\’s "obvious provocations."
Meanwhile, Republican U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte is leading a congressional delegation on a visit to Kiyv Sunday. Ayotte has called for more U.S. aid to Ukraine.
Source: Agencies
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