1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

NATO commander talks tough on Ukraine

March 22, 2015

NATO'S top military commander has said the West should "consider all our tools" to assist Ukraine. This, General Philip Breedlove said, includes sending defensive weapons to areas held by pro-Russian rebels.

Belgien Brüssel General Philip Breedlove
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/S. Lecocq

Washington has been discussing whether to supply Kyiv with weapons to assist their military fighting pro-Moscow rebels in eastern Ukraine which NATO says have been armed and are supported by Moscow.

Speaking at the annual Brussels Forum on Sunday, General Philip Breedlove said when asked if he favored sending weaponry to the region, "I'd not think that any tool of the US, or any other nation's power should necessarily be off the table."

Breedlove added, without specifically referencing Russia, that diplomatic, information, military, and economic tactics were being employed against Ukraine.

"And so we, I think in the West should consider all of our tools in reply. Could it be destabilizing? The answer is yes. Also, inaction could be destabilizing," Breedlove said.

Sporadic fighting reported on Sunday

Breedlove raised concern that last month's ceasefire deal between the separatists, Kyiv and Russia was not being observed, pointing to "disturbing" military developments in eastern Ukraine.

OSCE observers on Sunday reported artillery fire on the outskirts of the rebel-held eastern city of Ukraine, without apportioning blame.

Meanwhile, the Ukrainian army said that rebels had used small arms and other weapons overnight against government troops, albeit without killing any government troops.

Nevertheless, the overall rate of fighting has declined sharply since thesecond Minsk ceasefire deal, which called on both sides to withdraw heavy wweaponry from the front lines. The OSCE noted on Sunday, however, that neither side had offered sufficient access for its observers to confirm whether heavy artillery had indeed been pulled back.

Rapid response force for Internet 'narratives'?

Breedlove also used the Brussels Forum, organized by the German Marshall Fund think tank, to say that the West should employ a rapid-reaction approach to Internet communication that thwarts the "false narratives" Moscow is spreading on social media.

Russian President Vladmir Putin, Breedlove said, has been conducting information warfare as part of its actions against Ukraine.

"We need a Western group of nations or as an alliance to engage in this informational warfare. The way to attack the false narrative is to drag the false narrative into the light and expose it."

When questioned about reports that Russia's ambassador to Denmark, Mikhail Vanin, had cautioned that Danish warships could potentially become Russian nuclear missile targets if Copenhagen were to join NATO's European missile shield, Breedlove commented, "anyone who wants to join in to this defensive capability will come under this diplomatic and political pressure," without explicitly naming Russia.

jlw/msh (Reuters, AP, dpa, AFP)