BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Ukraine wants supplies of weapons but does not expect NATO to send soldiers to help it fight Russian troops in its eastern provinces, Kiev’s ambassador to NATO said on Friday.
Asked if any NATO member was currently supplying Ukraine with arms, Ihor Dolhov told reporters after an emergency meeting with NATO ambassadors: “No, unfortunately not.”
Dolhov said Ukraine was also not receiving any state-of-the-art weapons, despite Russian suggestions to the contrary. “No, not yet,” he told reporters.
Dolhov was speaking in Brussels after ambassadors to the alliance discussed the escalating crisis in which NATO said well over 1,000 Russian troops are now operating inside Ukrainian territory.
Dolhov said Kiev was not considering direct NATO military intervention to help it combat Russian forces.
“We need more assistance including military (assistance) and it is clear that NATO cannot support Ukraine with troops and we do not expect NATO member states to do so,” he said.
“We can protect ourselves, but we need your assistance to stop aggression, we need your assistance to call (Russian) President (Vladimir) Putin to peace,” he said.
NATO has said repeatedly it has no plans for military intervention in Ukraine, which is not a member of the alliance.
Ukraine said on Friday it would seek the protection of NATO membership after what Kiev and its Western allies say is the open participation of the Russian military in the war in Ukraine’s eastern provinces.
However, Ukrainian membership in the Western military alliance, which would come with the full protection of a mutual defense pact with the United States, remains an unlikely prospect, at least in the near future.
Dolhov said the increased Russian presence in eastern Ukraine would have an impact on what NATO leaders decide when they meet in Wales next week.
“Now NATO is ready to use stronger language and grant more support to my country,” he said.
The 28-nation alliance plans to announce more steps at the Wales summit to help Ukraine modernize its armed forces.
NATO plans to set up four trust funds to finance projects to improve Ukrainian military capabilities in logistics, command and control, cyber defense and support military personnel, including wounded personnel, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said on Friday.
NATO officials have said previously the funds, to which NATO allies would contribute, would be worth around 12 million euros.
Several members of the alliance announced financial contributions to the trust funds at Friday’s meeting and more pledges could come at next week’s summit, Rasmussen said.
Editing by Tom Heneghan