19:56 GMT +322 October 2019
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    NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg is holding a press-conference.

    NATO to Provide Secure Comms Equipment to Kiev Before 2019 – Stoltenberg

    © Sputnik / Aleksei Vitvitsky
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    BRUSSELS (Sputnik) – NATO is going to deliver secure communications equipment for the Ukrainian army before the end of this year, the alliance’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has stated.

    "NATO provides Ukraine with strong political and strong practical support. This includes around 40 million euros pledged by allies for NATO-Ukraine trust funds. One such trust fund is helping Ukraine improve command, control and communications. And today I told president Poroshenko that we will deliver secure communications equipment for the Ukrainian Armed Forces by the end of this year," Stoltenberg said after the talks with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.

    The secretary-general pointed out that NATO had stepped up its presence in the Black Sea because of alleged Russian aggression against Ukraine and would continue to assess its activities in the area.

    Stoltenberg noted that NATO recognized Ukraine's aspiration to join the alliance, praised significant progress of the Ukrainian reforms and called on Kiev to continue these efforts.

    "We want your country to succeed and we are committed to helping you to do so," the secretary general said.

    He also said that the further escalation of tensions in the Sea of Azov would not be in line with interests of any of the actors in the region.

    "Escalation would be in no one's interests now," Stoltenberg added.

    READ MORE: New Anti-Russia Sanctions to Complicate Talks on Kerch Strait Crisis — Berlin

    The secretary-general has commented on the situation in the Black Sea region that escalated on November 25, when three ships of the Ukrainian Navy — Berdyansk, Nikopol, and Yany Kapu — breached the Russian border, entered Russian territorial waters that were temporarily closed and began moving toward the Kerch Strait, which serves as the entrance into the Sea of Azov. The Ukrainian vessels and their crew were detained by Russia after failing to respond to a lawful demand to stop.

    In response to the incident, Poroshenko signed a decree declaring martial law in several Ukrainian regions located near the Russian border, and the coasts of the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov.

    Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the incident was a provocation prepared in advance as a pretext to introduce martial law. Putin said the provocation could be linked to Poroshenko's low approval ratings ahead of the presidential campaign set to start in late December.


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