Hagel: Ukraine Crisis Prompts NATO to
Re-examine Its Relevance
By Nick Simeone, DoD News,
Defense Media Activity.
Washington D.C. – (DoD
News) – August 7, 2014 – Russia’s “provocative actions” in neighboring
Ukraine are prompting NATO to re-examine its relevance, Defense Secretary Chuck
Hagel said yesterday, as the West faces what U.S. officials have described as
the worst crisis in relations with Moscow since the end of the Cold War.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel speaks to
service members and reporters at U.S. European Command headquarters in
Stuttgart, Germany, Aug. 6, 2014.
DoD photo by Navy Petty Officer 2nd
Class Sean Hurt
During a town hall meeting with U.S. service members in
Stuttgart, Germany, -- the first stop on a trip that also will take him to India
and Australia -- Hagel discussed the importance of NATO’s upcoming summit, set
to take place next month in Wales.
Russia’s support for rebels in eastern Ukraine “is forcing us
to take another look at the relevancy of NATO and how well NATO is structured
and prepared,” the secretary said.
After meeting with Ukrainian leaders in the Ukraine capital
of Kyiv today, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen announced that the
alliance will hold a special meeting with Ukraine at its upcoming summit, with
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko expected to attend. "We are advising
Ukraine on defense planning and defense reform, and we are ready to intensify
this cooperation," Rasmussen said.
Pentagon officials have said that Russia continues to arm
Ukrainian rebels and has massed at least 10,000 troops along the Ukrainian
The Ukrainian crisis will make the upcoming NATO summit “as
important as we’ve had in a long time,” Hagel said in Stuttgart, adding that the
summit will be heavy with objectives and big issues that have drawn attention
beyond the alliance.
“I think it’s making all of the nations of Europe take
another look at the realities of the world,” the secretary said.
Hagel also said the United States continues to assist in the
investigation and recovery efforts following the downing last month of a
Malaysian commercial airliner over eastern Ukraine, including having
investigators on the ground. Nearly 300 people were killed when the Malaysia
Airlines jet was blown out of the sky July 17 over eastern Ukraine, and U.S.
officials have said evidence points to Russian-armed separatists being
responsible. Russia and Ukraine have denied involvement in the incident.
For up-to-the-minute coverage of the secretary’s trip, follow
the Defense Department’s official Twitter account, @DeptofDefense.
(Follow Nick Simeone on Twitter: @SimeoneDoDNews)