Wednesday, April 26, 2017

NATO Official Gives Major Update on the Ukraine Crisis - says Russia on a backward course

On 6 April 2017 at Taras Shevchenko National University in Kyiv,Ukraine,NATO Deputy Secretary General Rose Gottemueller gave a major address on the situation in Ukraine,Russian foreign policy and NATO's response to it,including Ukraine's special relationship with the Alliance.Here are several excerpts of her speech attended by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and other Ukrainian dignitaries:
Since Russian forces first set foot on sovereign Ukraine in 2014,the NATO Alliance has spoken with one voice.We do not and we will not recognise Russia's illegal and illegitimate annexation of Crimea and its ongoing destabilisation of the east of Ukraine.
In recent weeks,violence has increased.The latest report from the UN Human Rights Office highlights a dire situation:increased civilian suffering,with tens of thousands of people deprived of even the most basic of necessities.It estimates the death toll from the conflict to be almost 10,000 people,including more than 2,000 civilians.
Last week,Foreign Ministers from across the Alliance met in Brussels to reaffirm their commitment to Ukraine.Ministers were briefed by Ukrainian Foreign Minister Klimkin and then discussed the current security situation in the east of Ukraine and Crimea.NATO Foreign Ministers condemned Russia's ongoing hostility and occupation and confirmed that Crimea-related sanctions must remain in place until Russia returns control of the peninsula to Ukraine.*
For as long as NATO has had partners,not long after the end of the Cold War,Ukraine has had a mission at NATO headquarters-one of the largest of all our partners-and NATO has more than 50 staff here in Kyiv.
The Ukrainian Armed Forces have greatly improved their capabilities in recent years.Ukraine sends more people on NATO courses than any other partner,and NATO commanders enjoy close relationships with their Ukrainian counterparts.Ukraine has committed to reforming its security and defence sector in line with Euro-Atlantic standards and principles,and we have a sizable team of NATO advisors here on the ground to help support these reforms.
Ukraine actively contributes to Euro-Atlantic security in many ways.Indeed,it is the only partner country that has contributed,at one stage or another,to all ongoing NATO-led operations and missions.Right now,Ukraine has a heavy engineering unit in Kosovo and 10 people serving under a NATO flag as part of our Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan.Over the last two years,Ukraine has contributed strategic airlift,naval and medical capabilities to the NATO Response Force.
Beyond these specific missions,NATO is also learning a great deal from Ukraine's ongoing experience of hybrid warfare.Every country in the NATO Alliance,as well as many of our partners,have been affected by Russia's ongoing efforts to destabilise our democracies;cyber attacks;and most controversially,direct interference in our elections.But none has been affected like Ukraine.
Ukraine has been the prime battleground of this new type of warfare.Military operations;cyber attacks;propaganda and 'fake news' are all just points on the continuum of conflict with the aim of advancing Russian political objectives.
This is a decidedly backward approach to foreign policy-a policy of domination over its neighbours-and it is vital that we learn all that we can if we are to effectively combat it in the future.To do this,NATO and Ukraine are establishing a Platform on Countering Hybrid Warfare.Through this platform,we will improve our ability to recognise and attribute hybrid attacks.We will actively identify areas of vulnerability and strengthen resilience.Areas like critical infrastructure,strategic communications and crisis management.*
Russia's aggressive actions against Ukraine these last few years have had a lasting impact both here and far beyond this land.NATO has responded.For the first time in a generation,NATO has had to focus on 'collective defence'.
As I speak,we are deploying multinational forces to countries in the east of our Alliance and have substantial forces available at very short notice to provide reinforcements if they are needed.And for the first time in many years,defence spending across the Alliance is going up.*
At this posting,NATO's exercise Combined Resolve VIII is underway in Germany.Ukraine is one of 10 NATO member-states and partners participating in these extensive warfighting drills.

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