Ukraine and the USA consider a question to deliver several US warships to the Ukrainian Navy free of charge, Pentagon chief Robert Gates said at a press conference after a meeting with Ukrainian Defense Minister Yury Yekhanurov, Interfax reports.
The meeting between Gates and Ekhanurov took place in Lake Ohrid, Macedonia, prior to the start of the South East European Defense Ministerial conference there. The head of the Pentagon also said that the decision to deliver the warships should be first approved by the US Congress. Gates added that it was a question of time. The US Defense Secretary said that the United States would continue discussing the question with Ukraine at a meeting in San Diego, although he did not specify the date.
A spokesperson for the secretariat of the Ukrainian president said that the question of USA ’s possible humanitarian aid to Ukraine in the form of several US warships was discussed during a recent visit of Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko to the United States, ForUm reports.
The US administration is also ready to cooperation with any coalition in the Ukrainian parliament, having pointed out the fact that the former Soviet nation is experiencing the time of political changes.
Robert Gates added that the USA would continue to support Ukraine’s aspiration to join NATO.
We reaffirmed the president's pledge in Bucharest of U.S. support for MAP for Ukraine. I encouraged the Ukrainian government to continue educating their citizens as to the benefits of being in NATO, and also the importance of continuing their efforts toward defense reform and interoperability. Our position, in principle, remains unchanged," Gates said.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates urged Eastern European leaders Wednesday to shift their military efforts from Iraq to Afghanistan, where their forces are more urgently needed.
Speaking at a meeting here of the Southeast European Defense Ministerial, Gates said that as the security situation in Iraq continues to improve, countries should considered filling the "urgent need" for trainers in Afghanistan.
"Your assistance will not only help Afghanistan better protect and care for its citizens, it will also reinforce your important role in insuring peace and stability around the globe," Gates said during a press conference with the Macedonian minister of defense, the AP reports.
Combined, the 11 members of SEDM (not counting the United States) have nearly 5,100 troops already in Afghanistan. Just one of the member nations, Bosnia-Herzegovina, has no troops there. It was not immediately clear how many of those nations have troops in Iraq.