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2014.02.28 11:36

NATO Defence Ministers expressed support to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity

DELFI|The Lithuania Tribune2014.02.28 11:36

On 26-27 February 2014, the Vice Minister of National Defence Marijus Velička attended a NATO Defence Ministerial in Brussels where NATO capabilities, the mission in Afghanistan and cooperation with Ukraine were the top of agenda, the Ministry of National Defence has informed.

On 26-27 February 2014, the Vice Minister of National Defence Marijus Velička attended a NATO Defence Ministerial in Brussels where NATO capabilities, the mission in Afghanistan and cooperation with Ukraine were the top of agenda, the Ministry of National Defence has informed.

The Ministerial included a session of the NATO-Ukraine Commission (NUC) where the Ukrainian delegation was led by First Deputy Minister of Defence Oleksandr Oliynyk. Vice Minister of National Defence Marijus Velička underscored that the NUC session was the first meeting of the new Ukraine’s government with the international community.

In his turn, Oliynik accentuated that his attendance at the session was a proof of the new Ukraine’s government to continue the cooperation with NATO. At the working session political developments in Ukraine and further cooperation with this long-standing partner of the Alliance was discussed.

“Lithuania supports Ukraine’s territorial integrity, Euro-Atlantic integration aspirations, and encourages Ukraine to further develop the cooperation with NATO,” Velička said at the meeting.

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen expressed concern about the developments in the Crimea region and urged Russia “not to take any action that could escalate tension”. The NATO Defence Ministers confirmed the support to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. NATO representatives particularly commended the fact of Ukraine’s armed forces refrained from getting involved in the political process during the crisis.

The Defence Ministers have also issued a joint statement regarding Ukraine where firm support to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity is expressed. They also extended condolences over the victims of violence and invited Ukraine to continue implementing political reforms in the spirit of respect to human rights, democratic values and the rule of law. NATO’s political will to continue the engagement with Ukraine and to assist the country in the implementation of reforms was also expressed.

Another leading theme at the two-day Ministerial in Brussels was NATO capabilities and NATO’s mission in Afghanistan.

The Ministers discussed the opportunities for NATO’s activity in Afghanistan after 2014 and the prospective new mission Resolute Support to train, advise and assist the Afghan security forces. The ongoing political and military preparations to launch the Resolute Support Mission were assessed as successful; however, a concern about the delay in negotiations with the Government of Afghanistan on concluding a Status of Forces Agreement was expressed. The Ministers confirmed the Alliance’s readiness to provide a relevant respond to any new development in Afghanistan and committed to the NATO military leadership to begin advance planning for the Resolute Support Mission.

As the NATO Summit in Wales this September is approaching, the Ministers identified key NATO capability gaps. A set of capability shortfalls will be proposed for approving as priorities areas at the NATO Summit. The Ministers also addressed the Connected Forces Initiative and NATO’s policy on cyber defence.

The Ministers also approved the report on the fundamentals of green defence initiated by Lithuania and Denmark. “Green Defence” will enable greater efficiency in using energy resources that will result in cutting the costs and better operational efficiency through diminished operational costs and risk. For instance, convoys will require less capabilities if alternative energy resources are employed in NATO operations which would reduce vulnerability of NATO forces.

The Lithuanian Vice Minister of National Defence brought to the Alliance’s attention the necessity to arrange more exercises based on NATO’s Article 5 scenario. Velička also expressed a hope that the NATO Summit would agree on the possibility for NATO member states to qualify for NATO assistance in case they had suffered from a major cyber-attack.

Prior to the NUC session Velička and Oliynik held a bilateral meeting. The First Deputy Minister of Defence of Ukraine thanked for Lithuania’s support at the complicated time for his country and affirmed that Ukraine was ready to make all the steps required in the formation of the joint Lithuanian, Polish and Ukrainian brigade LITPOLUKRBRIG. In his turn, Velička expressed an expectation that the bilateral Lithuania-Ukrainian cooperation will be continued successfully.