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Iran Press TV

Ukraine, NATO agree to expansion of cooperation

Iran Press TV

Tue Sep 22, 2015 2:47PM

Ukraine and NATO have signed a series of agreements on increasing the Western military alliance's presence in the European country, which has been hit by conflict in the eastern regions.

Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko said on Tuesday that the agreements are aimed at strengthening cooperation between Kiev and NATO in the sphere of strategic communications, Russia's TASS news agency reported.

"Three important agreements have been signed. An agreement on the status of NATO's office in Ukraine, the declaration on extending cooperation with NATO and a roadmap in the sphere of strategic communications," Poroshenko said.

The agreements seek to increase coordination between the two sides on naval issues and carrying out special operations.

The military and civilian offices of NATO will be united and have greater functions and powers.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg pledged on Tuesday to help the government in Kiev defend itself against pro-Russians in Ukraine's troubled east.

NATO has said it would continue increasing the military presence in Eastern Europe. It will boost the response force to 40,000 troops and deploy additional weapons in the east of the continent.

Critics fear that NATO's increasing presence could harm a truce agreement, dubbed Minsk II, which was reached between Ukraine's warring sides at a summit attended by the leaders of Russia, Ukraine, France, and Germany in the Belarusian capital city of Minsk on February 11 and 12. The agreement introduced measures such as a ceasefire, which officially went into effect on February 15, the pullout of heavy weapons, and constitutional reforms in Ukraine by the end of the year.

The shaky deal failed to end the deadly violence in the mainly Russian-speaking regions of eastern Ukraine, with both sides trading accusations of breaching the ceasefire deal.

The conflict in Ukraine broke out in March 2014 following a referendum in the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea, in which people voted overwhelmingly for reunification with Russia.

The situation, however, degenerated into a major armed conflict after Kiev dispatched troops to Lugansk and Donetsk in April 2014 in an attempt to suppress pro-Russia forces there.

Some 8,000 people have been killed and about 18,000 injured since April 2014, according to UN figures.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that the conflict in Ukraine was deliberately manufactured by "unprofessional actions" of the West.

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