Each member of the alliance must make an independent decision on the supply of weapons to the Kiev government, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg reportedly said yesterday.
- NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has announced that each member of the alliance must make an independent decision on the supply of weapons to the Kiev government, which continues to fight independence supporters in southeastern Ukraine, reports the German news agency DPA.
Stoltenberg spoke at a Conference for the Sosial and Democratic Party in Berlin yesterday, and according to DPA he said that he supports the reconciliation efforts of the Normandy Quartet, which includes Russia, Germany, France and Ukraine.
The talks have not lead to any significant breakthroughs, and meanwhile the US Congress has called for the provision on lethal assistance to Kiev-led forces.
U.S. considering options
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko asked US Congress for lethal weapon supplies during his September visit to the United States, but Washington did not grant his request.
However, The New York Times first reported the possible change in policy, saying NATO commander Gen. Phil Breedlove is in support of the new lethal assistance, and that Secretary of State John Kerry, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Martin Dempsey and National Security Adviser Susan Rice are all open to considering the idea.
This assistance could come in the form of so-called "defensive lethal aid," which could include anti-tank, anti-air and anti-mortar systems.
Last week a U.S. official told CNN that military leadership supports defensive lethal aid being part of the discussion, but the administration is still trying to assess what reaction it could elicit from the Russian government, which the U.S. maintains is backing rebels in eastern Ukraine.
Speaking at the Munich Security Conference on Saturday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel ruled out any possibility of weapon supplies to Ukraine, stating that this would not help solve the crisis. Other European states, including Finland, France and Italy have also rejected the idea.
McCain Attacks Merkel
This weekend the Russian news agency Sputnik reported that the US Republican Senator John McCain has criticized Chancellor Angela Merkel for not yielding to supplying arms to Ukraine.
McCain accuse her of indifference towards the Ukrainian people suffering from the consequences of a conflict in the southeast of the country.
One might think that she does not know or does not care that people are being slaughtered in Ukraine, the German media quote McCain saying.
The Chancellor is visiting Washington today to brief US President Barack Obama on the peace plan to end fighting in eastern Ukraine, and the Senator’s words have reportedly caused heavy criticism in Germany.
Urgent, Says Stoltenberg
Last week the defense ministers of the NATO member-states agreed on the creation of six new command and control posts in Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Romania. The ministers also announced that NATO’s Response Force would be doubled, to include up to 30.000 people.
Russia's envoy to the alliance, Alexander Grushko, says the decision "creates a great risk for Russia", primarily in the Baltics, and that it inevitably will lead to "adequate" changes in Russia's military planning".
When Stoltenberg opened the Munich Security Conference on Friday, he said that the situation in Ukraine is critical, and that the efforts by Chancellor Merkel and President Francois Hollande - to find a peaceful solution to the Ukraine crisis - are "important and urgent".
NATO's official website quote the Secretary General saying that there is no contradiction between defence and dialogue:
- A strong NATO is essential if we are to engage Russia with confidence. A constructive NATO-Russia relationship would benefit the Euro-Atlantic community. And the entire international order. But international rules must be respected – not rewritten. And certainly not violated, Stoltenberg says.