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‘SPHERE OF INFLUENCE’

NATO is fighting back against Russian accusations that the alliance has targeted Moscow.

“Russia’s aggression against Ukraine has led to Russia’s international isolation, including NATO’s suspension of all practical cooperation with Russia,” the alliance said Friday. “To divert attention away from its actions, Russia has leveled a series of accusations against NATO which are based on misrepresentations of the facts and ignore the sustained effort that NATO has put into building a partnership with Russia.”

Russia has violated NATO’s Founding Act, which calls for creating a common security in Europe and respecting sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of European states.

“Contrary to those commitments, Russia now appears to be attempting to recreate a sphere of influence by seizing a part of Ukraine, maintaining large numbers of forces on its borders, and demanding, as Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov recently stated, that ‘Ukraine cannot be part of any bloc,’” NATO said, adding that contrary to Moscow’s claims, the alliance never pledged it would not expand into Eastern and Central Europe.

NATO also rejected Russian assertions that the current Ukrainian government is illegitimate and that a referendum leading to the annexation of Crimea was legal.

“The referendum was illegal according to the Ukrainian constitution, which states that questions ‘of altering the territory of Ukraine are resolved exclusively by an All-Ukrainian referendum,’” the alliance said.

• Contact Bill Gertz at @BillGertz.