Meeting on Afghanistan at the level of Heads of State and Government

NATO leaders at the Wales Summit on Thursday (Sept. 4).

ON NATO:  The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is an alliance of 28 countries from North America and Europe committed to fulfilling the goals of the North Atlantic Treaty signed on April 4, 1949. …The fundamental role of NATO is to safeguard the freedom and security of its member countries by political and military means. Read about Ukraine-NATO relations at wikipedia.

(by Sergei Loiko and Carol Williams, The Sydney Morning Herald) – Newport WALES – Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko held talks with U.S. President Barack Obama and other Western leaders on Thursday on the conflict with pro-Russia rebels in Ukraine ahead of the start of a NATO summit.

Mr. Poroshenko met Mr. Obama, Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron, France’s President Francois Hollande, Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel and Italy’s Prime Minister Matteo Renzi after Russia on Wednesday put forward a peace plan for Ukraine, claiming it would produce a ceasefire by Friday.

Collapsing Ukrainian government defenses and a growing public hunger for peace have forced Mr. Poroshenko to seek a truce with pro-Russia separatists at a time when the Kremlin-allied militants have the upper hand in the conflict, analysts say.

Russia, too, could benefit from a pause in the fighting that would allow the separatists to solidify their hold on newly seized territory.

However, Russian President Vladimir Putin appears to be holding out for a humiliating concession of defeat by Kiev.


Russia’s President Vladimir Putin (L) and Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko (R) shake hands during a summit in Belarus’ capital of Minsk on August 26, 2014.

Mr. Putin has listed seven steps necessary for a ceasefire in the conflict in eastern Ukraine at talks scheduled for today in Belarus.

The primary conditions on Mr. Putin’s list are that (1) the separatists halt all offensive operations and (2) that Ukrainian troops move their artillery back out of range of Ukrainian cities and large towns in the rebel-held area of Ukraine.

Mr. Putin also (3) called for Ukraine to cease airstrikes; (4) called for the establishment of an international monitoring mission and (5) humanitarian aid corridors; (6) an “all for all” prisoner exchange; and (7) “rebuilding brigades” to repair damaged infrastructure.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk quickly denounced Mr. Putin’s proposal as a plot to “ruin Ukraine and restore the Soviet Union.”

Mr. Putin offered his seven-point plan the day before NATO leaders were scheduled to meet in Wales with the crisis in Ukraine at the top of the agenda.

Ahead of the NATO summit, French officials said that they would not deliver the first…warship that Russia had ordered from Paris as part of a $1.9 billion weapons sale, a strong rebuke after months of aggressive actions by Russia in eastern Ukraine.

ukraine-eu-russia-mapFrench officials said that Russia’s actions were undermining security in Europe.

The statement did not say whether France would deliver the ship in the future but said the conditions for it to do so at this time “have so far not been met,” despite the possibility of a ceasefire in Ukraine.

Mr. Poroshenko’s desperate search for a way out of the crisis was apparent in his premature announcement of a “lasting ceasefire” reportedly agreed with Mr. Putin on Wednesday; a claim the Kremlin disputed.

“Russia cannot physically agree on a ceasefire, as it is not a side in the conflict,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told the RIA Novosti news agency.

Mr. Putin insists Russia has sent neither troops nor weapons into Ukraine.  He casts the conflict as a dispute between a “Kiev junta” and Russian-speaking eastern residents who are “demonstrating” for more autonomy for their regions.

Ukrainian and Western officials accuse Moscow of instigating the crisis and fuelling it with infusions of Russian fighters and arms.

Ukrainian government troops appeared on the verge of defeating the separatists last month after Russian commanders returned to Russia.

However, after Moscow sent a 280-truck convoy purportedly bearing humanitarian aid into the last separatist-held enclaves and, said NATO and Kiev, dispatched two columns of tanks into Ukraine’s Sea of Azov region, the tide of the fighting turned.

Ukrainian servicemen from the Azov Battalion train volunteers in Mariupol. Photo: AFP

Ukrainian servicemen from the Azov Battalion train volunteers in Mariupol. Photo: AFP

Ukrainian government forces have suffered major setbacks over the past 10 days since the Russian incursion opened a new front along the Azov coastal road, drawing Kiev’s troops away from the separatists hemmed in in Donetsk and Luhansk. Separatist control of the coastal highway would provide a land bridge between the Russian mainland and Crimea, the strategic peninsula seized from Ukraine and annexed to Russia this year. …

More than 2600 people died in five months of fighting, including 800 Ukrainian soldiers, defense officials said last week.

Russia remains silent about its casualties in Ukraine, burying its dead and treating its injured in secrecy, independent media reports say.

(from reports from Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Washington Post, AFP)

Reprinted here for educational purposes only. May not be reproduced on other websites without permission from The Sydney Morning Herald. Visit the website at smh


1. a) Name the leaders and capitals of Ukraine and Russia.
b) What is meant by “the Kremlin” as in “the Kremlin said” or as used in paragraph 14?

2. a) Ukraine is not a member of NATO. With whom did Ukraine’s president meet ahead of this week’s scheduled NATO summit?
b) What is the purpose of NATO?

3. The Russian government has had Russian troops fighting in Ukraine with the separatist rebels against the Ukrainian government. Contrast Russia’s explanation of its incursion into Ukraine with the West’s view of Russia’s involvement.

4. a) What step did the French government take to express its concern over Russia’s actions against Ukraine?
b) What accusation did French officials make against Russia?

5. Describe the steps President Putin has said need to take place for a ceasefire agreement.

6. What does Ukraine’s prime minister think of Putin’s ceasefire requirements?

7. Based on what they know about Putin’s actions over the past 10 years, ask a parent or grandparent what he/she thinks of President Putin’s ceasefire offer. (Can he be trusted? Will he leave Ukraine alone? Will he go after any other former Soviet territory?)


from a Wall Street Journal report:

  • As dozens of world leaders gathered in Newport, Wales for a summit of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Thursday that Russian forces continue to destabilize Ukraine even as Moscow pushes a cease-fire deal in the east of the country.
  • Speaking ahead of the summit, Mr. Rasmussen said that NATO welcomes “all efforts to find a peaceful solution to the crisis in Ukraine.”
  • But he added: “What counts is what is actually happening on the ground and we are still witnessing unfortunately Russian involvement in destabilizing the situation in eastern Ukraine.” He called on Moscow to pull back its troops.
  • NATO officials say that Russia has “several thousand” combat troops in Ukraine using hundreds of tanks and combat vehicles, which Russia denies.
  • The NATO leaders, including President Barack Obama, met with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on Thursday and agreed to further assistance for the country’s armed forces.
  • Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned the West not to support Kiev’s desire for closer relationswith the alliance, saying it threatened attempts to reach a cease-fire. …

The two-day summit is also expected to discuss the ending this year of NATO’s combat mission in Afghanistan. That is expected to transition next year into a training mission—but the U.S. and NATO are awaiting signature of agreements with the Afghan government that would provide a legal basis for foreign troops to stay in the country. He said time was running short for the accords to be signed.

Leaders will also discuss the rise of the Islamic State terrorist group in Syria and Iraq. Mr. Rasmussen welcomed efforts of the U.S. and other countries to push the group back. Asked about NATO involvement in Iraq, he said NATO had not received the necessary request from the Iraqi government. If such a request came, he said it would be “seriously considered” by allies.

The leaders are expected to agree on a so-called Readiness Action Plan, to develop a NATO force of several thousand troops able to respond within two days to a crisis. Mr. Rasmussen said NATO would also “turn the corner and reverse the trend of declining military spending.”

The U.K. government says the summit is the largest gathering of world leaders on British soil. Heads of state and government are also expected from countries across the world that partner the 28 NATO allies on military operations. The summit, in a country resort hotel, is accompanied by a huge security operation here and in the nearby Welsh capital Cardiff, with 9,000 police drafted in from all parts of the U.K. and large numbers of private security guards and troops.

Read more about Ukraine and Russia here:

Get Free Answers

Daily “Answers” emails are provided for Daily News Articles, Tuesday’s World Events and Friday’s News Quiz.