Any decision to supply weapons to Ukraine will be taken by NATO member states, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in an interview to Russia’s Kommersant newspaper.
“The decision to arm Ukraine will be taken by NATO members themselves. By the way, arming a legitimate government is different from arming anti-government forces. The 28 member states have their own different weapons systems, they will decide whether or not to provide weapons to Ukraine,” he noted.
An intense debate is underway in Washington over whether to provide arms to Ukraine in its fight against Russian-supported rebels. Despite last week’s ceasefire agreement there is widespread scepticism about prospects for its effective and sustained implementation. Ukraine has appealed to the countries whose leaders took part in the 11-12 February negotiations in Minsk to intervene in the escalating conflict, Ukrainian deputy presidential chief of staff Valeriy Chaly said on 17 February.
Stoltenberg said in the interview that NATO has documentary evidence of Russia’s military presence in Donbass.
“Our intelligence means provide documentary data of Russia’s military presence in eastern Ukraine. We see such information in the reports of independent sources and journalists. Moreover, NGOs provide information about Russian soldiers who died in Ukraine”, he said.
Stoltenberg mentioned that the OSCE also gives information about the military equipment in eastern Ukraine.
“It is hard to believe that armed groups independently use this military equipment. Obviously, Russian specialists are operating there and they provide assistance in using complex weapon systems”, Stoltenberg said.
“This is the violation of the fundamental principles of international law. Russia should respect Ukraine's borders and its territorial integrity. However, it violates the international law by annexing Crimea and supporting militants,” the NATO chief concluded.