NATO chief wants to beef up Ukraine defenses against Russia

The commander of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) forces in Europe, U.S. General Curtis Scaparrotti said on Tuesday that he wants to bolster Ukraine's defenses against Russia's posture in the east of the country and the Black Sea. 

According to AFP, the general told Congress that the U.S. has already sold Javelin anti-tank missiles to Ukraine in the past year, but there are "other systems, snipers systems, ammunition" that Washington could provide to strengthen Ukraine's forces, noting the U.S. may have to consider boosting naval defenses in the Black Sea. 

Scaparrotti also claimed that Moscow's activities around Ukraine breached the 2015 Minsk agreements. 

On Ukrainian issue, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov reiterated Moscow's position last December: "We will not wage war against Ukraine, I promise you."

During the interview with a Russian radio station, Lavrov said Russia is not fighting against Ukraine, pointing out that it is Ukrainian citizens living in Donbass who are fighting against the Ukrainian authority, which has full Nazi and neo-Nazi characteristics. 

Lavrov also said last year that the Minsk agreements are the only option of overcoming the crisis in the Donbass region.

(Cover: U.S. Army General Curtis Scaparrotti, Commander of the U.S. European Command and NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe, testifies on Capitol Hill before the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee in Washington, D.C., March 8, 2018. /VCG Photo)

(With inputs from agencies)