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Top NATO military official calls for support for Ukraine

Defense 18:31 April 12, 2022

By Song Sang-ho

SEOUL, April 12 (Yonhap) -- A top North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) official made an emphatic appeal Tuesday for "moral, mental" and other types of support to help Ukraine's fight against Russia's invasion, calling such aid "extremely important" for the war-torn nation.

NATO Military Committee Chair Adm. Rob Bauer made the call during a press meeting, noting it is up to each nation to determine what it can and will send to Ukraine, which he said is "fighting for its existence."

Bauer arrived here Saturday for a four-day visit. He has met with Seoul's Defense Minister Suh Wook and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Won In-choul to discuss the conflict in Ukraine as well as bilateral cooperation.

"I think it is extremely important that all the support that Ukraine can get ... also mental support or in terms of moral support is extremely important for a nation that is fighting for its existence," the admiral said. "So, don't underestimate that type of support."

NATO Military Committee Chair Adm. Rob Bauer speaks to the press at the Polish Embassy in Seoul on April 12, 2022. (Yonhap)

The admiral stressed if a nation decides to do one of three things -- non-lethal, lethal or humanitarian aid -- "it is great in itself."

Bauer said he had discussed Seoul's aid for Ukraine during his separate talks with Suh and Won, though they reiterated a position against the provision of lethal arms to Ukraine.

"I know that South Korea is doing a lot already in terms of normally thought aid, and humanitarian aid and financial help," he said. "I think that is extremely important for Ukraine, and I hope that will continue also with, of course, the incoming government."

Touching on the issue of weapons support for Ukraine, Bauer stressed the importance of training Ukrainian troops about how to harness any weapons should a nation decide to send any military hardware.

"If you send a weapon system that is not known to the persons that are supposed to fight with them, then you have to consider not only sending the weapon system but also to make sure that the weapon system can be used, and therefore it needs training," he said.

Asked about the possibility of Ukraine gaining NATO membership, the admiral pointed out NATO's "open-door policy" but enumerated tough procedures for admission, including securing the consent of all NATO allies under its consensus-based decision-making rule.

"It is a combination of an agreement by the allies themselves, the willingness of the nation to become a member, and then if the first two criteria are met, then you need to also basically live up to the rules that we set," he said.

Bauer's visit here came amid growing concerns that North Korea could engage in provocative acts, such as the launch of another intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) and a nuclear test, in time for its key political events later this month.

For NATO, the recalcitrant regime also remains a "concern," Bauer said.

"Yes, it is a concern, because with this increasing capability, North Korea is increasingly able to also reach NATO territory, and therefore it is a concern, absolutely," he said. "Therefore, NATO is very much working together with the international community to convince North Korea to basically adhere to the decisions that were taken on the denuclearization and all the other decisions," he said.

His trip to Seoul also highlighted NATO is not entirely preoccupied with the conflict in Ukraine.

"We're not only focusing on Ukraine, because the world is larger than Ukraine," he said. "It is terrible what is happening, and we will continue to focus our efforts and our assistance to Ukraine, but there is more ongoing than that."


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