Backing Ukraine

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen announced expanded cooperation activities during a visit with senior Ukrainian government officials in Kiev, Ukraine, on Thursday, according to an Aug. 7 NATO release. In a press conference following his meetings with Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko and others, Rasmussen also announced a special meeting to be held at next month’s NATO summit in Wales with Ukrainian officials. “In response to Russian aggression, NATO is working even more closely with Ukraine to reform its armed forces and defense institutions,” Rasmussen said, adding Russia has “continued and intensified” its support for Ukrainian separatists. NATO foreign ministers have agreed to establish funds to assist in areas such as building command and control capabilities, logistics, and retraining for retired Ukrainian military personnel. “Together we are planning more joint exercises and more shared training and education,” Rasmussen said. His comments echoed Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, who spoke with service members at US European Command headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany, on Wednesday about the conflict in Ukraine, and the importance of the upcoming NATO meeting. Russia’s “provocative actions” are forcing the US and its NATO allies to “take another look at the relevancy of NATO and how well NATO is structured and prepared,” said Hagel, according to an Aug. 7 DOD release.