06:52 GMT26 September 2020
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    NATO Seeks Expansion to Eastern Europe (362)
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    NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg is set to make his first "symbolic" visit to Kiev in what Ukraine’s foreign minister Pavlo Klimkin said would pave the way for a NATO 'embassy' in the Ukrainian capital.

    In a statement on the NATO Mission to Ukraine website it was reported that Klimkin and Stoltenberg had met at NATO headquarters and "took stock of NATO-Ukraine cooperation since the NATO summit in Wales and outlined plans for further interaction, including in the context of the future visit of the NATO Secretary General to Ukraine." 

    Klimkin told reporters: "On behalf of the President I invited the Secretary General and he kindly accepted this invitation to participate for the first time in the history of Ukraine-NATO relations, in the meeting of the Ukraine National Security Defense Council.”

    "It should be a symbolic first visit," Klimkin told journalists.

    "The date will be formally announced in the near future. We agreed to announce the date jointly," he said, adding that it was expected to take place this month.

    NATO War Games

    Ukraine is not a member of NATO but has become a key partner since formal co-operation began in the 1990s. However, critics say the increasing ties between NATO and Kiev since the start of the Ukraine crisis are a provocation against Moscow at a time when NATO has been building up its powerbase in Eastern Europe.

    Co-operation between the alliance and Ukraine started after the end of the Cold War, when newly independent Ukraine joined the North Atlantic Cooperation Council (1991) and the Partnership for Peace program (1994).

    Klimkin rejected the idea that the visit would worsen relations with the Russian government, saying the visit could hardly be classed as "further provocation". NATO did not comment on the visit by Stoltenberg for security reasons. 

    NATO has welcomed in most former Warsaw Pact nations, starting with the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland joining in 1999; Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania and Slovakia in 2004; and the non-aligned Albania in 2009. Slovenia and Croatia joined in 2004 and 2009.

    Ukraine has joined more than 1,500 thousand troops from 12 countries, 18 warships, 14 aircraft and helicopters, 25 armored vehicles and 500 soldiers and marines in the "Sea Breeze" naval exercise currently underway in the Black Sea near Odessa and Mykolaiv.

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    NATO Seeks Expansion to Eastern Europe (362)

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    NATO, international relations, military cooperation, visit, conflict, defense, war, security, Europe, Ukraine, Russia
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