NATO Defence Ministers express strong support for Ukraine
Allied Defence Ministers reaffirmed their unwavering support for Ukraine in a meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission on Thursday (25 June 2015). In their talks with Defence Minister Stepan Poltorak, the ministers discussed the security situation in Ukraine, and reviewed NATO’s assistance. Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg underlined that Ukraine continues to be “faced with heavily-armed separatists, supported, trained and equipped by Russia,” and is also undertaking reforms despite a serious economic crisis. “Ukraine is making progress against all these challenges, and this is remarkable,” he said.
Ministers praised Ukraine’s commitment to extensive reforms in its defence and security sectors. While the Secretary General said that this would take “patience and determination”, he stressed that the Alliance will continue to support Ukraine in both political and practical ways, including through five NATO trust funds.
Mr. Stoltenberg welcomed “real progress” on the trust funds, saying “in recent days, we have launched projects on secure communications and regional airspace security.” He added that the Alliance has “agreed in principle to create a new trust fund” on demining and countering improvised explosive devices. “This is vital for saving lives,” he said. The Secretary General further noted that NATO is cooperating with Ukraine on civil emergency planning and disaster management, and will conduct a joint exercise in this area later this autumn.
The Secretary General reiterated that all Allies “stand firm in our support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity”, and continue to call on Russia to stop destabilising the country. “The people of Ukraine deserve our support, and we are committed to our partnership with Ukraine,” he said.