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NATO leaders 'stepping up' assistance to Ukraine in response to Russian aggression

NATO leaders committed to "stepping up" assistance to Ukraine to bolster its military defenses and provide continuing support in the face of Russian aggression.

By JC Finley
NATO leaders 'stepping up' assistance to Ukraine in response to Russian aggression
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, pictured in August, reaffirmed at the NATO Summit in Wales on September 4, 2014 that "Now in these difficult times, NATO stands by Ukraine." (UPI/Ivan Vakolenko) | License Photo

CARDIFF, Wales, Sept. 4 (UPI) -- At the NATO Summit in Wales on Thursday, NATO leaders reaffirmed their support for Ukraine in the face of continuing Russian aggression.

"Our support is concrete and tangible," said Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen. That support, he observed, has gone both ways. "We highly value Ukraine's contributions to our operations and the NATO Response Force. Ukraine has stood by NATO. Now in these difficult times, NATO stands by Ukraine."

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In terms of tangible support, NATO leaders announced "we are stepping up" strategic consultations concerning military cooperation, defense and security sector development, and launching new programs focused on command, control and communications, logistics and standardization, cyber defense, military career transition, and strategic communications. NATO members will also increase their advisory presence at NATO offices in Kiev.

"Allies have taken note of Ukraine's requests for military-technical assistance, and many Allies are providing additional support to Ukraine on a bilateral basis, which Ukraine welcomes."

NATO is currently comprised of 28 nations, its prevailing concept one of binding mutual aid in case of military attack.

On August 29, Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk announced Ukraine would seek NATO membership, a request opposed by NATO member Russia. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko was expected to meet with U.S. President Barack Obama at the NATO Summit in Wales on Thursday to discuss another possibility that entails granting Ukraine the status of a Major Non-NATO Ally, possibly as an intermediate step before full membership.

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