Urgent NATO Meeting on Ukraine

Urgent NATO Meeting on UkraineUrgent NATO Meeting on Ukraine

NATO said it will hold an “extraordinary” meeting of the alliance’s Ukraine Commission later Monday to discuss escalated fighting in eastern Ukraine.

Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg will separately meet with EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini Monday as the deepening crisis put pressure on Brussels to tighten sanctions against Russia.

“At the request of Ukraine, there will be an extraordinary meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission at ambassadorial level this afternoon... in view of the situation in eastern Ukraine,” a NATO official said, AFP reported.

A spokesman for the commission said Ukraine is conducting “an active exchange of information on the development of the events” with NATO.

The commission was set up in 1997 when former Soviet state Ukraine became a partner of NATO in a policy switch which Moscow has never forgiven. It provides a forum for the 28 alliance members and Ukraine to discuss issues of mutual concern.

“Fighting in eastern Ukraine has sharply flared up with indications of a large-scale offensive by separatists,” he said.

Mogherini’s meeting with Stoltenberg at NATO headquarters in Brussels was a further indication of the seriousness of the crisis.

Sanctions have been hugely divisive for the European Union, with several member states reluctant to go as far as to damage important trade and political ties with Moscow.

The European Union is due to hold an emergency meeting of the foreign ministers on Ukraine on Thursday, Mogherini said.

The deteriorating conflict in Ukraine’s southeast, which resulted in the depths of dozens in Mariupol and Donetsk, has forced diplomats from Moscow and Washington to enhance their efforts.

Earlier on Sunday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov held a phone conversation with Mogherini and US Secretary of State John Kerry to discuss the crisis.