NATO urged to increase assistance to Ukraine

29 May 2016

Tirana, Sunday 29 May 2016 – Ukraine faces the unenviable task of fulfilling the promises of the Euromaidan revolution while trying to rebuff Russia’s aggression. The support of the Euro-Atlantic community is vital for Ukraine to succeed in this endeavour, lawmakers from NATO member and partner countries were told at the NATO Parliamentary Assembly’s Spring Session in Tirana, Albania.

“Minsk II is not perfect, but it is the best available mechanism to resolve the conflict,” said Lord Jopling (UK) referring to the internationally-brokered peace blueprint as he presented a report on Ukraine to the NATO PA’s Committee on the Civil Dimension of Security (CDS). Unfortunately, Moscow continues to violate “Minsk II”, provide military support to the separatists and destabilise the rest of Ukraine, the British legislator said. He also urged Kyiv to adopt key decentralisation legislation to deprive Moscow and its clients of an excuse to stall the implementation of the deal.

While welcoming the release of Ukrainian pilot and member of parliament, Nadiya Savchenko earlier this week, NATO legislators stressed that Russia has yet to release other Ukrainian political prisoners, including film-maker Oleh Sentsov.

Lord Jopling further condemned the massive violation of human rights in the occupied and illegally annexed Crimea, particularly the recent wave of repression against the Crimean Tatar community. He called on the international community to reinforce the message that the occupation and annexation of Crimea will never be recognised.

Ukrainian legislators participating in the session asked for a more tangible assistance from NATO, noting that eventual membership was ultimately the only security guarantee for Ukraine. They noted that Ukraine is currently fighting for the values and freedom of the entire Euro-Atlantic community.

Several members of the Assembly stressed that while some dialogue with Moscow is necessary, sanctions must remain in place until Russia changes its aggressive behaviour. Speaking at the CDS meeting, the President of the NATO PA, Congressman Michael Turner, noted that Russia’s assertiveness is, in fact, increasing, as demonstrated by its recent threats against Poland and Romania. Rasa Jukneviciene of Lithuania, Rapporteur for the NATO PA’s Political Committee, also called on NATO Allies to maintain a unified approach in the face of continued Russian provocation, which should be “realistic and firm”. “The Russian leadership only understands – and respects – strength. If they feel their opponents are weak, they will take advantage of it”, she stated.

Lord Jopling appealed to Ukrainian politicians to put the peoples’ interest above their own and to take concrete actions that would show a willingness to forego the old, malign practices of governance. The level of international support directly depends on Ukraine’s ability to deliver on promises of reform and to defeat corruption and oligarchic influences. He noted also that transforming a country with Ukraine’s size and legacy was never going to be easy. “We need patience and continuous support and encouragement,” Lord Jopling argued.

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