NATO ministers met in Brussels, Belgium, this afternoon, saying that Russian military moves in Ukraine and its threats of using military force in other areas of Eastern Europe pose a grave threat to international security.
The meeting, the first since Russia annexed the former autonomous Ukrainian republic of Crimea, comes as members looked unsettled at possible future moves by the Russian military in the worst crisis since the end of the Cold War.
NATO said that it has suspended cooperation with Russia in alliance and military activities after it annexed Crimea in a referendum that was condemned by the West following weeks of unrest that led to the ousting of its former, pro-Russian president.
Both the United States and the European Union have looked into economic aid, and Ukraine has asked for military aid to help rebuild the army which it said was gutted by the former president to make taking it over relatively easy.
Meanwhile, more than 60,000 Russian troops are standing pat near Ukraine and in Crimea and looking hungry for more territory.
In addition, both U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov have met to discuss the situation, which Russia claimed was to protect Russian nationals from increasing threats by Ukrainian nationalists who had threatened to harm them.
Ukraine denied the claims, and said that the referendum that allowed Russia to annex Crimea was illegal.
In addition, the United Nations General Assembly voted overwhelmingly to condemn the move, saying that the seizure of territory by Russia was a violation of international law and former compacts that it had signed with Ukraine in which it guaranteed the country’s borders in return for Ukraine’s surrender of its nuclear arsenals.
Many members of the Ukrainian government now feel that the treaty was a mistake.
Meanwhile, NATO has beefed up air patrols and other military activities in Eastern Europe to deter further aggression by the Russians.