Four Nato allies deny Ukraine statement on providing arms

Senior US official says no offer of lethal assistance was made to Ukraine

A senior aide to Ukraine's president Petro Poroshenko said today that Kiev had agreed at the Nato summit in Wales on the provision of weapons and military advisers from five Nato member states, but four of the five swiftly denied any such deal had been reached.

Nato officials have previously said the alliance will not send arms to non-member Ukraine, but have also said individual allies may do so if they wish.

"At the Nato summit agreements were reached on the provision of military advisers and supplies of modern armaments from the United States, France, Italy, Poland and Norway," Poroshenko aide Yuri Lytsenko said on his Facebook page.

Lytsenko gave no further details. He may have made his comment for domestic political reasons to highlight the degree of Nato commitment to Ukraine and to its pro-Western president.


Poroshenko, whose armed forces are battling pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, attended the two-day summit in Wales that ended on Friday.

A senior US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, denied that the United States had made such a pledge. The official said, “No US offer of lethal assistance has been made to Ukraine.”

Asked about Lytsenko’s comments, defence ministry officials in Italy, Poland and Norway also denied plans to provide arms.

In France, an aide at the Elysee palace declined to comment.

“This news is incorrect. Italy, along with other EU and Nato countries, is preparing a package of non-lethal military aid such as bullet-proof vests and helmets for Ukraine,” an Italian defence ministry official said.

Norwegian defence ministry spokesman Lars Gjemble, speaking to the NTB news agency, said, “We’re participating with staff officers in two military exercises in Ukraine, but it’s not correct that we’re delivering weapons to Ukraine.“

A Polish defence ministry spokesman, Lieutenant Colonel Jacek Sonta, said by email, “There (was) no agreement concerning supply of modern arms from Poland to Ukraine at the Nato summit.”

Nato officials have said the alliance will not send weapons to Ukraine, which is not a member state, but they have also said individual allies may choose to do so.

Russia is fiercely opposed to closer ties between Ukraine and the Nato alliance.

Earlier, a woman died and at least four people were wounded when fighting flared again in eastern Ukraine overnight, jeopardising a ceasefire struck less than two days earlier between Ukrainian government forces and pro-Russian separatists.

The accord, brokered by envoys from Ukraine, the separatist leadership, Russia and Europe’s OSCE security watchdog, is part of a peace plan intended to end a five-month conflict that has killed nearly 3,000 people and caused the sharpest confrontation between Russia and the West since the Cold War.

Shelling resumed near the port of Mariupol on the Sea of Azov late last night, just hours after Russian president Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian counterpart Petro Poroshenko had agreed in a phone call that the truce was holding.

Fighting also broke out early today on the northern outskirts of rebel-held Donetsk, the region’s industrial hub. A witness plumes of black smoke filling the sky near the airport, which has been in the hands of government forces.

“Listen to the sound of the ceasefire,“ joked one armed rebel. “There’s a proper battle going on there.“

The two cities turned quiet again this afternoon.

In a new report on the conflict, Amnesty International accused both the rebels and Ukrainian militia of war crimes and it published satellite images it said showed a build-up of Russian armour and artillery in eastern Ukraine.

“Our evidence shows that Russia is fuelling the conflict, both through direct interference and by supporting the separatists in the east. Russia must stop the steady flow of weapons and other support to an insurgent force heavily implicated in gross human rights violations,” Amnesty’s secretary-general, Salil Shetty, said in a statement

Both sides insisted they were strictly observing the ceasefire and blamed their opponents for any violations.

“As far as I know, the Ukrainian side is not observing the ceasefire. We have wounded on our side at various points. We are observing the ceasefire,“ Vladimir Antyufeyev, deputy premier of the self-proclaimed “Donetsk People‘s Republic”, said.