Outgoing U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel says they have ''committed nearly $320 million in assistance to Ukraine for this year'' and will review what further assistance is needed. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) NATO defence ministers met on Thursday (February 5) to sign off on a network of command centres in eastern Europe to rapidly reinforce the region in the event of any threat from Russia, as well as a new regional headquarters and a bigger rapid reaction force. Speaking from Brussels, Outgoing Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said, "What assistance we provide -- the United States, NATO partners, Ukraine -- has to be continually reviewed and we are reviewing the kind of assistance we're looking at for Ukraine. You know that we have -- the United States -- has committed nearly $320 million in assistance to Ukraine for this year, 2015." "All the powers involved have to make decisions based on where we think the best, most effective path is for the longer-term resolution of this issue," Hagel said. The ministers' meeting comes at a time of high tension between the West and Russia over fighting in Ukraine, that has raised the spectre of a return to Cold War-style confrontation. They were expected to agree to more than double the size of NATO's existing rapid reaction force - to 30,000 soldiers from 13,000 - and to flesh out details of a 5,000-strong "spearhead" force with a faster reaction time of only a few days. With Washington talking of arming Ukraine for the first time, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry also visited Kiev on Thursday. He had no plans to go to Moscow and was not involved in the Franco-German initiative, although he supported it. NATO officials believe its small-scale measures comply with the alliance's 1997 commitment not to permanently station substantial combat forces in eastern Europe while providing allies in the region with a visible assurance that the rest of NATO would come to their aid if they were attacked. Ministers are also set to discuss growing concerns within NATO over Russia's nuclear strategy and indications that Russian military planners may be lowering the threshold for using nuclear weapons in any conflict, diplomats say.