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NATO to provide Ukraine with secure communications equipment, Stoltenberg says

NATO announced that it will supply Ukraine with secure communications equipment by the end of the year to help Kiev combat destabilization efforts by Russia.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg praised Ukraine for its “calm and restraint” during the recent naval standoff with Russia in the Azov Sea and said NATO support for Kiev would continue.

After talks with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, Stoltenberg repeated a call for Russia to free sailors seized in the Azov Sea clash last month.

“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 on Thursday, December 13.

“We are also supporting Ukraine to improve its naval capabilities, logistics and cyber defence.”

The communications equipment will be provided through NATO’s Command, Control, Communications and Computers (C4) Trust Fund for Ukraine, a support package announced in 2016 to assist Kiev in better providing for its own security.

“We are supplying the Ukrainian Armed Forces with encrypted radio communication devices and pocket-sized GPS trackers,” NATO spokesperson Dylan P. White told The Defense Post.

Earlier this week the European Union said Russia had prepared the ground for the sea clash with a year-long campaign of disinformation about Kiev and NATO’s plan for the Azov Sea.

Stoltenberg took aim at Russia’s “destabilizing behavior,” particularly in Ukraine where a conflict rages in the east between the government and separatists supported by Moscow.

“We see that in eastern Ukraine where ceasefire violations are reported daily, including with weapons banned under the Minsk Agreements,” Stoltenberg said.

The Minsk agreements were struck to end the conflict, which began following the annexation of Crimea by Russia, but they have not been successful.

Stoltenberg also said that the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe monitoring mission in Ukraine was facing restrictions.

“They are regularly prevented from moving freely and their observation drones are jammed and shot down,” Stoltenberg said.

The encrypted radios NATO is providing to the Ukrainian Armed Forces to counter the regular Russian jamming of their equipment.

Last October, NATO said that it was providing Ukraine with state-of-the-art cyber defense equipment aimed at preventing damage from cyber attacks.

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This story was updated on December 13, 2018 at 1645 GMT with comments from NATO.

With reporting from AFP

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