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US administration needs to be less careful when it comes to Ukraine's Euro-Atlantic aspirations – Vershbow

KYIV. Sept 2 (Interfax-Ukraine) – The US administration needs to be less careful when it comes to Kyiv’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations, and do more to provide military assistance to Ukraine, which resists Russian aggression, NATO Deputy Secretary General (2012-2016) Alexander Vershbow said.

Vershbow said in an online discussion at Kyiv Security Forum on Thursday that the administration needs to be a little less careful when it comes to NATO and Ukraine’s NATO aspirations: the US administration supports these aspirations in rhetoric, but it feels uncomfortable to do something concrete, even to start moving this process forward. He said he hopes that as NATO is revising its 2030 strategy, the true integration of Ukraine into NATO would be at least part of this discussion in the Alliance.

He pointed out that while NATO membership for Ukraine is over the horizon, the United States should do more in terms of defense assistance, involve members of the Alliance to do more.

Vershbow said that the United States should encourage its allies to bring their troops to Ukraine more often as a visible demonstration of US and NATO commitment, for conducting exercises, training, and generally show that Russia will pay a high price if it launches a new aggression.

At the same time, he noted that the United States could do more to help Ukraine in the defense sector.

The former NATO Deputy Secretary General thinks that $60 million aid package looks rather modest under the current circumstances, the least the United States could do given the growing threat from Russia, starting with the Russian force build-up in the spring, in light of Russia’s more aggressive behavior in the Black Sea, the incident with the British HMS Defender.

He added that after events that happened in Afghanistan, Russian President Vladimir Putin might think that the United States is moving away from its global leadership and might want to test the United States and Ukraine with new aggression in the coming months.

Therefore, he said, he would like to see a bigger package, adding that he hopes that that was just the beginning.

As reported, the United States announced a new $60 million security assistance package that includes Javelin armor-piercing systems and other lethal and non-lethal defense equipment that will enable Ukraine to more effectively defend itself against Russian aggression.