Russia’s foreign minister on Thursday said any efforts by Ukraine to join NATO would “derail” peace talks to solve the crisis there.
Kiev’s latest statements hinting at a plan to seek NATO membership are "a blatant attempt to derail all the efforts" to seek a peace agreement, Sergey Lavrov said, according to The Associated Press.
His comments came a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin outlined a seven-point plan for a cease-fire in eastern Ukraine.
NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, however, dismissed Russia’s attempts to broker a deal during the NATO summit in Wales.
“What counts is what is actually happening on the ground," Rasmussen said. "And we are still witnessing, unfortunately, Russian involvement in destabilizing the situation in eastern Ukraine.”
He called on Russia to pull its troops back, to stop sending weapons and fighters into eastern Ukraine and to stop arming separatists.
“That would be a genuine effort to facilitate a peaceful solution to the crisis in Ukraine."
President Obama and Secretary of State John KerryJohn KerryEquilibrium/Sustainability — Presented by The American Petroleum Institute — Illegal pot farms dry up Western creeks Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by Climate Power — Interior returns BLM HQ to Washington Biden confirms 30 percent global methane reduction goal, urges 'highest possible ambitions' MORE are participating in the NATO summit, which has also been focused on building a coalition against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
Some reports, meanwhile, suggest the Obama administration is preparing another round of sanctions against Russia that would target its energy sector. The U.S. would likely impose additional sanctions in conjunction with the European Union, as it did in late July with tough sector sanctions.