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Iran says NATO’s US-led provocations have complicated Ukraine crisis

A Ukrainian service member holds a machine gun in a trench at a position on the front line near the village of Travneve in the Donetsk region, Ukraine, on February 21, 2022. (File photo by Reuters)

Tehran has denounced the US-led North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)’s interference in the volatile eastern part of Ukraine, stating that the military alliance’s provocative measures have complicated the situation and led to the sharp escalation of tensions there.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran calls on all parties to exercise restraint and avoid any action that could aggravate tensions,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said in a statement on Tuesday.

“Unfortunately, the interference and provocative measures by NATO and led by the US have made things more complicated in this region,” Khatibzadeh said.

“We are following the issues related to this country (Ukraine) with sensitivity,” he added.

On Monday night, the UN Security Council held an emergency meeting after Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree recognizing breakaway Lugansk and Donetsk regions in eastern Ukraine as independent republics and instructed Russia’s defense ministry to deploy peacekeeping troops to the two regions.

Donetsk and Lugansk regions were turned into self-proclaimed republics by ethnic Russians in 2014, which triggered violent conflict between the government forces and armed secessionists. 

The conflict worsened following a wave of protests in Ukraine that led to the overthrow of a democratically-elected pro-Russia government, replacing it with a pro-West administration.

Russia and the US-led NATO military alliance have been at odds over Ukraine.

Western countries have claimed that Russia is planning an invasion of Ukraine by amassing 100,000 troops and armaments near the Ukrainian border.

The US and the European Union have threatened severe sanctions against Kremlin in the event of an attack or invasion of Ukraine.

However, Moscow has vehemently rejected the allegations, saying the military build-up is defensive in nature, slamming NATO over its increased military activity near Russian borders.

In December last year, Moscow asked NATO not to allow Ukraine and other former Soviet countries to join the Western military alliance.

It also urged the alliance to stop its military deployments to Ukraine and to withdraw its forces from Eastern Europe, demanding legally binding guarantees.

The demands were flatly rejected, with the military bloc saying its membership will remain open to Ukraine.

Russian President Vladimir Putin had earlier warned that the US was deliberately designing a scenario to lure Russia into a war over Ukraine.

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