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22:13, 04 September 2014 Thursday

NATO chief asks Russia to pull back troops

NATO chief asks Russia to pull back troops

Rasmussen tells Kremlin to stop backing rebels in eastern Ukraine as NATO leaders meet in UK amid calls for ceasefire.

NATO Secretary General has told the Kremlin to pull back Russian troops from Ukraine and to stop supporting rebels in eastern Ukraine, as leaders from the trans-atlantic military alliance meet in the UK.

"We call on Russia to pull back its troops from Ukraine and to stop the flow of arms, fighters and funds to the separatists," Anders Fogh Rasmussen said on Thursday at the NATO summit near the Welsh city of Newport.

The NATO chief asked "Russia to end its illegal and self-declared annexation of Crimea".

But Rasmussen said that NATO would not supply arms to Ukraine, saying it was up to individual members to decide whether to supply arms to the conflict-wracked country.

Earlier, the White House said that key NATO leaders had agreed during the meeting that Russia should face increased sanctions for its actions in eastern Ukraine.

"The leaders reiterated their condemnation of Russia's continued flagrant vioaltion of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity, and agreed on the need for Russia to face increased costs for its actions," the statement on Wednesday said.

NATO leaders, including US President Barack Obama and French President Francois Hollande, earlier met President Poroshenko on the sidelines of the summit described as the most important since the end of the Cold War.

Poroshenko and Western leaders are to hold a session of the NATO-Ukraine Council, set up after the country became an alliance partner in 1997, the AFP news agency reported.

Rasmussen said that the "meeting sends a clear message that NATO stands with Ukraine".