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EU, US to help Ukraine overcome Russian gas crisis

The US and EU have pledged to assist Ukraine in reducing its reliance on Moscow for energy supplies. Russia's prime minister has said economic ties with the EU and US should not suffer because of the crisis in Ukraine.

US Secretary of State John Kerry (pictured) said Wednesday the US will seek to obtain gas for Ukraine through Slovakia, Hungary and Poland.

“No nation should use energy to stymie a people’s aspirations,” Kerry said in Brussels.

The EU and US are working on

lessening European Union countries’ reliance on Russian gas supplies.

Russia’s

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev

said Wednesday economic ties with Europe and the US should not suffer because of “political ambitions and prejudices” over the crisis in Ukraine.

“Economic interests should not be a victim of political predjuces,” Medvedev told an investment conference.

Another cold war?

Meanwhile, Russia has accused NATO of reverting to language of the Cold War by suspending the organization's collaboration with the Kremlin.

Russia's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Alexander Lukashevich said Wednesday that “the language of the statements rather resembles the verbal jousting of the ‘Cold War' era."

On Tuesday, NATO head Anders Fogh Rasmussen announced that the alliance would

formally end practical defense and civilian cooperation with Russia

in protest of Moscow's annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.

"We are suspending all practical cooperation with Russia, military and civilian," Rasmussen said at a meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Brussels.

"Through its actions, Russia has undermined the principles on which our partnership is built, and has breached its own international commitments. So we cannot go on doing business as usual."

'Incredibly concerning'

NATO’s top military commander said Wednesday Moscow has all the armed forces it needs positioned on the border with Ukraine if it decided to carry out an “incursion” into the country. It could, they say, achieve its objective in three to five days.

Referring to the situation as “incredibly concerning,” NATO's Supreme Allied Commander Europe, US Air Force General Philip Breedlove, said Wednesday NATO had noticed signs of movement by a section of the Russian force overnight.

In an interview with the Reuters news agency, Breedlove said NATO foreign ministers meeting in Brussels requested he draw up a plan by April 15 that included land, air and sea reinforcements to reassure the organization's Eastern European allies.

US Secretary of State John Kerry took a break on Tuesday from peace process discussions in Israel to join the closed-doors summit. Ukraine's foreign minister was invited to attend part of the proceedings.

NATO members agreed to examine the possibility of deploying more military assets to eastern Europe, in particular to Poland and the Baltic nations. In a joint statement, the foreign ministers pledged they would keep providing "appropriate reinforcement and visible assurance of NATO's commitment to deterrence and collective defense against any threat of aggression to the alliance."

jlw/hc (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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