Less than a week before President Obama and other NATO leaders gather in Wales for a two day summit, NATO is accusing Russia having "well over 1,000 troops" in Ukraine where Russian-backed separatists continue to skirmish with Ukrainian forces. This latest development underlines a statement on the state department's blog Thursday, which refers to "Russia’s illegal aggression" as "the most severe challenge to European security since the end of the Cold War."

The blog post, entitled "NATO Wales Summit: A Family of Nations Committed to Peace and Freedom," cites four themes NATO will focus on at the upcoming gathering: Afghanistan, "challenges on NATO’s periphery," capabilities, and partnerships. The Russia-Ukraine conflict falls under the "challenges on NATO’s periphery" heading along with "Syria and Iraq, as well as persistent instability in North Africa, especially Libya." Here's the entire paragraph:

NATO leaders will meet with Ukrainian President Poroshenko to discuss the crisis caused by Russia’s illegal aggression, the most severe challenge to European security since the end of the Cold War. All 28 Allies today contribute to reassurance measures in the air, on the land and at sea among the eastern Allies, signaling NATO’s unity and resolve. At the Summit, we’ll address additional reassurance measures and further adaptations to NATO’s posture in response to this challenge. Leaders will also discuss the rapidly evolving situations in Syria and Iraq, as well as persistent instability in North Africa, especially Libya.

So far, President Obama had expressed confidence than sanctions will be sufficient to force Russia into a political settlement with Ukraine.

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