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U.S., NATO have no contingency plans for Ukraine-commander

Source: Reuters - Thu, 27 Feb 2014 15:34 GMT
Author: Reuters
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BRUSSELS, Feb 27 (Reuters) - Neither the United States nor NATO has drawn up contingency plans for how they would respond if Russia were to intervene militarily in Ukraine's Crimea region, NATO's top military commander said on Thursday.

U.S. Air Force General Philip Breedlove, also commander of U.S. forces in Europe, said in an interview with Reuters and The Wall Street Journal that NATO had not changed the deployment of any military assets due to tensions over Ukraine.

"No, no, we have taken no actions to this moment. We are doing what everyone else is doing which is monitoring. We are trying to get to a full understanding of exactly what has transpired," Breedlove said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered 150,000 troops on Wednesday to be ready for war games near the border of the former Soviet republic once ruled from Moscow after pro-Russian Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich was toppled by protests over his rejection of closer ties with the European Union.

In addition, an armed group seized government buildings in Ukraine's ethnic Russian-majority region of Crimea on Thursday and raised the Russian flag.

The occupation of the buildings in Simferopol, Crimea was "a troubling situation", Breedlove said. "We, like all the nations of NATO, want to see a peaceful resolution to all of the turmoil in Ukraine."

Asked if he was concerned about the possibility of a Russian military intervention in Crimea, Breedlove said: "I think everybody might be concerned about that but right now that is not my primary concern ... No one benefits from competition between NATO and Russia over Ukraine."

"Right now we are not planning contingencies on how to respond here. What we are doing is supporting the peaceful resolution of this business," Breedlove said.

(Reporting by Adrian Croft; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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