"NATO has a long-standing partnership with Ukraine. Today we made clear that NATO stands ready to support democratic development, defence reforms, military cooperation and democratic control over the security sector," media quoted NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen as saying.

Rasmussen expressed concern over recent developments in Ukraine's Crimea region. "This morning's action by an armed group is dangerous and irresponsible," he said. "I urge Russia not to take any action that could escalate tension or create misunderstanding," he added.

"There is a need for all concerned to take a responsible stance and to work for stability," he said.

Armed men seized the regional government headquarters and Parliament in Ukraine's Crimea on Thursday and raised the Russian flag.


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