Anders Fogh Rasmussen offers NATO support for Ukraine
The death toll continues to rise as the political chess pieces are positioned
Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the secretary general of NATO - and former Danish prime minister - is in Kiev to meet with Ukrainian officials, including Petro Porosjenko, the president and Arsenij Jatsenjuk, the prime minister.
As the fighting in the troubled nations intensified, Rasmussen offered NATO’s political support to Ukraine and called on Russia to pull back its troops from Ukraine’s borders and "step back from the brink" of war. NATO claimed last week that 20,000 Russian soldiers stand ready along the Ukrainian border.
Rasmussen warned Russia that further intervention in Ukraine will isolate it further.
Rasmussen said that he fears that Russia is looking at ways to engage in covert actions, such as sending peacekeepers or humanitarian assistance into eastern Ukraine.
He and Jatsenjuk met and discussed possible NATO support for Ukraine's defensive strength - excluding lethal aid. Rasmussen discussed the possibility of a financial aid from NATO to support Kiev's capabilities areas like communications and cyber-defence.
Rasmussen's warning comes as Russia announced a ban on most food imports from several nations, including Denmark.
Death toll rising
The recent increase in clashes between the two sides have raised the death toll among government forces to more than 400 since the conflict with the pro-Russian separatists began in April.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights says the conflict has cost the lives of more than 1,300 people and that nearly 300,000 people are now refugees fleeing the violence.
Ukraine and its Western allies accuse Russia of orchestrating the revolt and arming the rebels. Moscow denies involvement.