BRUSSELS: NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg on Wednesday demanded that Russia withdraw its forces and military hardware from Ukraine and halt its support for pro-Moscow separatists battling Kiev.
Two Ukrainian soldiers killed, 8 wounded in fresh clashes in rebel east
"Russia needs to stop supporting the militants and withdraw its forces and military equipment from Ukrainian territory," Stoltenberg said after a meeting of NATO defence ministers with their Ukrainian counterpart in Brussels.
He said the US-led alliance will continue to stand by the government in Kiev and would never recognise Russia's "illegal and illegitimate annexation of Crimea".
"In response to Russia's actions, NATO has stepped up its support for Ukraine. Our level of political and practical engagement since 2014 is unprecedented," he said.
NATO, Russia to hold highest-level talks since Crimea annexation
Stoltenberg said Moscow continued to support the rebels in many ways, supplying equipment and advisors while it massed troops along the border with Ukraine and built up its military presence in Crimea, home base for its key Black Sea fleet.
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