Putin's Crimea visit 'inappropriate': NATO
NATO's head on Friday condemned Russian President Vladimir Putin's visit to Crimea and said the military alliance has seen no evidence Moscow has pulled its troops back from Ukraine's border.
"We still consider Crimea as Ukrainian territory and from my knowledge the Ukrainian authorities haven't invited Putin to visit Crimea, so from that point of view his visit to Crimea is inappropriate," said NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen.
"We consider the Russian annexation of Crimea to be illegal, illegitimate, and we don't recognise it," he said in the Estonian capital Tallinn.
Putin made a surprise visit to the Crimean port of Sevastopol on Friday to inspect Russian naval forces as part of celebrations to mark the World War II Soviet victory over the Nazis.
Russia annexed Crimea last month after a referendum called for the territory to come under Moscow's rule.
The crisis has since shifted to other parts of eastern Ukraine, where Kiev has struggled to put down uprisings by pro-Russian militants.
NATO's Rasmussen also confirmed the Western defence alliance still saw nothing to indicate that Putin was withdrawing Russian troops massed along Ukraine's eastern border.
The Russian leader announced the pullback on Wednesday, but both the Whitehouse and NATO say they have seen no evidence the estimated 40,000 troops have dispersed.
Rasmussen arrived in the ex-Soviet Baltic state of Estonia from Poland on Thursday to lead a two-day meeting delegation of the North Atlantic Council, NATO's main political decision-making body.
The 28 members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation have responded to Russia's intervention in Ukraine by stepping up defences in Eastern Europe, sending warships, fighter jets and troops to the region.
The build up is scheduled to end on December 31, but the alliance has said it could become permanent.
© 2014 AFP