According to AFP, Russia vowed on Tuesday (September 2) to adopt a beefed-up military doctrine over NATO's plans to establish a rapid-response team that could ward off the Kremlin's expansion into Ukraine and feared a push further west.
The Ukrainian president's appeal for European assistance in the face of Russia's alleged dispatch of elite troops into the separatist east of was effectively cast aside by EU leaders meeting over the weekend in Brussels.
Moscow's surprise announcement added a new and threatening layer of tension ahead of NATO's two-day summit that starts Thursday (September 4-5) in Wales and will see Ukraine's beleaguered leader Petro Poroshenko personally lobby US President Barack Obama for military help.
NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen said in Brussels that the 28-nation alliance would endorse the establishment of a force of "several thousand troops" that could be deployed within "days" to meet any perceived Russian military movements in Eastern Europe.
THE NEW YORK TIMES reported the rapid-response unit would be supported by new NATO members such as Poland that were once Soviet satellites, but now views Russian President Vladimir Putin with focused fear and distrust.
COMMENT: If anything, Vladimir Putin fully comprehends that his reputation as a "bully" far exceed his resources to deliver on his threats all the while recognizing that economically the ruble is in free-fall and the belt-tightening from economic sanctions are beginning to take hold.
It was prudent for Secretary-General Ban to emphasize that there is NO military solution to the conflict in the Ukraine.
If NATO has any clout at all, it rests in NATO having the resources and infrastructure to aggressively prompt Moscow into raising economic survival to a CRISIS level, rather "simply having a few flies to swat at."
The EU and US economic sanctions unfortunately have NOT been painful enough to force Putin to focus on feeding his people, rather than engaging in imperialistic pursuits. Simply put, Mr. Putin has far too much time on his hands.
Russia's National Security Council's deputy secretary Mikhail Popov said the mooted Western defense plan was "evidence of the desire of US and NATO leaders to continue their policy of aggravating tensions with Russia."
Popov added that Russia's 2010 military doctrine, a document that already permits the use of nuclear weapons should national security be threatened, would sharpen its focus in responding to NATO with its new European missile defense system.
"I have no doubt that the question of the approach of NATO members' military infrastructure to our border, including by an expansion of the bloc, will remain as one of the foreign military threats to Russia," he said.
Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said in separate comments that Russia's armed forces would be given added muscle with the deployment of 230 new military helicopters and jets by the end of the year.
It accused "terrorists dressed in Russian Army uniforms of attacking medical columns of the Ukrainian armed forces that were being used to transport wounded soldiers and were clearly marked."The press offices of Ukraine's self-declared "anti-terrorist operation" reported "ferocious battles" across the rebel-held eastern industrial regions of Lugansk and Donetsk.
Moscow on Monday again denied either sending or planning to deploy troops into eastern Ukraine to help insurgents open a corridor along the Sea of Azov between the Russian border and the Crimea peninsula that the Kremlin annexed in March.
Moscow and the West digging in for a Cold War-style standoff with unimaginable consequences for global security prompted UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to caution all sides that "there is no military solution" to the crisis.
"I know the EU, the Americans and most of the Western countries are discussing very seriously among themselves how to handle this matter," he told reporters during a visit to New Zealand.
"What is important at this time is that they should know there is no military solution in this. There should be a political dialogue for a political solution, that is the more sustainable way," Secretary-General Ban emphasized.
An inconclusive round of European-mediated talks between Kiev and Moscow envoys and a few separatist leaders concluded in the Belarussian capital Minsk on Monday (September 1) with no reported progress and a tentative agreement to meeting again on Friday.
Putin raised the stakes further on Sunday by calling on Kiev to discuss establishing actual "statehood" for the two mostly Russian-speaking eastern districts.
The Kremlin had only urged the decentralization of Ukraine when Kiev forces were making their most dramatic military advances in the wake of Poroshenko's election as president at the end of May.