Russia’s senior general and Nato’s military commander agreed yesterday they would closely monitor the situation in Ukraine and keep each other informed, a Nato spokesman said.

Tension between Russian and the West has increased over the crisis in which Ukraine’s Moscow-backed President, Viktor Yanukovych, was toppled after bloody street protests.

US Air Force General Philip Breedlove, Nato’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe, discussed Ukraine in a phone call yesterday with General Valery Gerasimov, chief of the general staff of Russia’s armed forces, a spokesman for Breedlove said.

The US and European allies warned Russia on Sunday not to send forces into Ukraine after a Kremlin aide said Moscow could intervene. Asked by Reuters if Nato had contingency plans for a Russian military intervention in Ukraine, Nato spokeswoman Oana Lungescu said only: “This is a political crisis which needs a political solution.”

Nato defence ministers, who meet in Brussels later this week, are expected to discuss developments in Ukraine at a dinner on Wednesday evening, Lungescu said. They are likely to voice support for continued democratic reforms in Ukraine.

While not a Nato member, Ukraine participates in a number of Natomissions, including contributing soldiers to Nato-led forces in Kosovo and Afghanistan.

Meanwhile also yesterday Russian economy minister Alexei Ulyukayev said the next $2 billion bailout instalment for Ukraine is “ready to go” and that Moscow was waiting for the formation of a new government after the ouster of Russian-backed president Viktor Yanukovych.

“Our position is, we are going to continue with that. But we would like to know, who are our partners?” Ulyukayev said during an event at the US Chamber of Commerce in Washington. “And what (is) the programme of the interim (government)? What is the programme?,” he added, speaking about the economic plans of the government led by Oleksander Turchinov, who has been named acting president of Ukraine.

Russia has purchased $3 billion in Ukrainian eurobonds out of $15 billion bailout package pledged in December after Kiev spurned a trade deal with the European Union in favour of closer ties with Moscow.

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