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NATO Tells Ukraine Country Must Reform Before Membership Can Be NATO Stepping Up Practical Aid to Ukraine in New Trust Fund - NATO Chief

Sputnik News

12:39 25.06.2015(updated 12:58 25.06.2015)

Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that NATO is increasing practical aid to Ukraine to include regional airspace security and a new trust fund to demine the country.

BRUSSELS (Sputnik) – NATO is increasing practical aid to Ukraine to include regional airspace security and a new trust fund to demine the country, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Thursday.

'This new trust fund will concentrate on demining and countering improvised explosive devices,' Stoltenberg said at a press conference after a NATO-Ukraine Commission meeting in Brussels.

Stoltenberg announced additional regional airspace data sharing and civil air defense plans as part of the military alliance's increasing partnership with Ukraine.

A mine blast in southeast Ukraine killed at least seven government troops earlier this month. Both Kiev and independence militias in Donbass accused each other of mining the conflict area.

In its report earlier this month, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe's Special Monitoring Mission (OSCE SMM) documented the heavily mined roads and checkpoints in parts of Donetsk.

The SMM cited a regional military-civilian mediator as saying the mines and damages prompted evacuation plans in Slovyansk, Marinka and Krasnohorivka. Observers themselves noticed 'lanes of anti-tank mines' along the government-controlled Donetsk-Kurakhove road.

The report cited an interview with a Ukrainian army commander saying government forces were preparing to take out of storage and deploy anti-tank mines.

The Minsk agreements on Ukrainian reconciliation should not be considered dead regardless of the number of violations in the ceasefire agreement, Jens Stoltenberg said.

'It will not be useful to declare the Minsk agreements as dead. There are many violations in the ceasefire, we see that not all the heavy weapons are being withdrawn,' Stoltenberg told journalists at a press conference in Brussels.

In February, the Kiev authorities and the independence supporters of the Donbas region signed an agreement on Ukrainian reconciliation in Minsk. The agreement stipulated ceasefire, effective on February 15, the withdrawal of heavy weaponry from the contact line and constitutional changes in the country.

Both sides ever since have accused each other of violating the Minsk accords. According to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) monitors, the Minsk agreements have been violated many times.

The conflict in eastern Ukraine has been taking place since April 2014, when the Kiev authorities launched a military campaign against the independence supporters in the country's southeast. More than 6,400 people are estimated by the UN to have died since the beginning of the conflict.


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