NATO encouraging Kiev to use force
Russia's envoy to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) says the western military alliance is “encouraging” the Kiev authorities to use force against pro-Moscow activists in eastern Ukraine.
Alexander Grushko made the remarks in a meeting with ambassadors of NATO member states in the Belgian capital of Brussels on Monday, Russia's Ria Novosti news agency reported.
"NATO is providing Kiev ... with technical support, thus encouraging the continuation of forceful actions," Grushko said.
The Russian official also accused NATO of adding to tensions in the eastern Ukrainian provinces by conducting "unprecedented" activities near Russia's borders.
He further noted that the military alliance is hampering efforts to find a peaceful solution to the current turmoil in the former Soviet state.
On May 6, NATO launched military drills in Estonia with a record-breaking number of 6,000 troops from a number of allied countries, including the US, the UK, Latvia and Lithuania. The alliance has also deployed fighter jets and naval vessels to Lithuania and Poland as well as to Romania.
Tensions between Russia and the West heightened after Ukraine's Autonomous Republic of Crimea integrated into the Russian Federation following a referendum on March 16.
The United States and its European allies accuse Moscow of destabilizing Ukraine and have slapped a number of sanctions against Russian and pro-Russia figures.
Russia, however, rejects the accusation, saying the pro-Moscow protests in Ukraine began spontaneously against the new interim government in Kiev.