Kiev: A top NATO commander warned Wednesday that "continual attacks" against Ukraine were hampering Kiev`s efforts to modernise its army enough to one day join the Western military alliance.
"We are well aware of the formidable challenges that Ukraine is facing," NATO`s political affairs and security chief Thrasyvoulos Terry Stamatopoulos told the start of a defence meeting in Kiev.
"It`s not easy to launch wide-ranging reforms while managing a major conflict and deterring continual attacks against your territorial integrity," he said in reference to the West`s repeated accusation of Russia being behind Ukraine`s separatist war -- a charge Moscow denied.
The assistance secretary general`s visit to Kiev comes three months into a ceasefire that has managed to scale down but not completely halt the pro-Russian uprising that has claimed nearly 6,300 lives in Ukraine`s industrial east.
Russian President Vladimir Putin firmly denies either orchestrating or supporting the conflict in order to weaken the pro-Western leadership that toppled a Moscow-backed president in February 2014.
The Kremlin now hopes that the ceasefire`s ability to stem the worst bloodshed will prompt the European Union to lift some of the more punishing sanctions against Russia in the next few months.