EurActiv.com

EU news and policy debates across languages

10/12/2016

NATO members deny ‘agreement’ to supply Ukraine with arms

Europe's East

NATO members deny ‘agreement’ to supply Ukraine with arms

Yuriy Lytsenko [Kiev Ukraine News Blog]

A senior aide to Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko said Sunday (7 September) that Kyiv had agreed at the NATO summit in Wales on the provision of weapons and military advisers from five NATO member states, but four of the five swiftly denied any such deal had been reached.

NATO officials have previously said the alliance will not send arms to non-member Ukraine, but have also said individual allies may do so if they wish. A NATO official contacted by Reuters on Sunday on the Lytsenko comment reiterated this policy.

“At the NATO summit agreements were reached on the provision of military advisers and supplies of modern armaments from the United States, France, Italy, Poland and Norway,” Poroshenko aide Yuriy Lytsenko said on his Facebook page.

Lytsenko gave no further details. He may have made his comment for domestic political reasons, to highlight the degree of NATO commitment to Ukraine and to its pro-Western president.

Poroshenko, whose armed forces are battling pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, attended the two-day summit in Wales that ended on Friday.

A senior US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, denied that the United States had made such a pledge. The official told Reuters, “No US offer of lethal assistance has been made to Ukraine.”

Asked about Lytsenko’s comments, defence ministry officials in Italy, Poland and Norway also denied plans to provide arms.

In France, an aide at the Elysée palace declined to comment.

“This news is incorrect. Italy, along with other EU and NATO countries, is preparing a package of non-lethal military aid such as bullet-proof vests and helmets for Ukraine,” an Italian defence ministry official told Reuters.

Norwegian Defence Ministry spokesman Lars Gjemble, speaking to the NTB news agency, said, “We’re participating with staff officers in two military exercises in Ukraine, but it’s not correct that we’re delivering weapons to Ukraine.”

A Polish defence ministry spokesman, Lieutenant Colonel Jacek Sonta, said by email, “There [was] no agreement concerning supply of modern arms from Poland to Ukraine at the NATO summit.”

NATO officials have said the alliance will not send weapons to Ukraine, which is not a member state, but they have also said individual allies may choose to do so.

Russia is fiercely opposed to closer ties between Ukraine and the NATO alliance.

Background

NATO leaders made clear at a summit in Wales that their military alliance would not use force to defend Ukraine, which is not a member, but planned tougher economic sanctions to try to change Russian behaviour in the former Soviet republic.

>> Read: NATO summit pledges ‘tangible’ support to Ukraine

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, who was present at the 4-5 September NATO summit, also took centre stage at the 30 August EU summit, where he said that the EU's agenda from now on would largely revolve around Ukraine.

>> Read: Poroshenko: The EU's agenda now revolves around Ukraine

At the summit, some EU leaders reportedly spoke about the need of military assistance to Ukraine, many demanded tougher sanctions, but reportedly Slovakia, Hungary and Cyprus made it clear they oppose further sanctions which they claim would hurt their countries more than Russia.