by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission at the level of Defence Ministers
Welcome and good morning.
Then we are ready to start.
And ladies and gentlemen, welcome to this meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission.
The conflict in Ukraine has already cost over 6,000 lives. Ceasefire violations persist. And there is still a risk of a return to heavy fighting.
Russia continues to support the separatists with training, weapons and soldiers. And it has large numbers of forces stationed on its border with Ukraine.
The best chance for peace is the full implementation of the Minsk agreements. I urge all parties to do so. And Russia has a special responsibility in this regard.
I also wish to reaffirm NATO’s commitment to the sovereignty and the territorial integrity of Ukraine. We do not and will not recognise Russia’s illegal and illegitimate annexation of Crimea.
We wish to see a strong, independent and prosperous Ukraine.
This is why we are helping Ukraine to reform its armed forces and defence institutions. Including with support on cyber, command and control, and on logistics.
I am pleased to say that in the recent days we have seen substantial progress in our Trust Funds, especially in the areas of secure communications and regional airspace security.
But Ukraine also has to do its part. Reforms are essential. They require a determined effort on the part of our Ukrainian partners.
Today we will discuss the latest developments, and our continuing support for Ukraine.
NATO’s commitment to Ukraine is unwavering. This is our clear message today.
Let me thank the members of the media who have joined us for the start of this session.