Mikhail Palinchak / Reuters
NATO has reportedly called off a
meeting with Ukrainian officials due to fears of provoking the
The military alliance had planned to
meet with officials in Kiev to discuss its new missile-defense system
based in Romania, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday. The
meeting would have tackled the problem of debris, or off-course
interceptor rockets, falling on Ukrainian territory in the event the missile
shield was ever put into use.
However, escalating violence along Ukraine's
eastern border has reportedly pushed NATO diplomats to rethink the
meeting, with many unwilling to risk undermining relations with
Fighting flared in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic Jan. 29, with heavy artillery fire falling on
residential areas in the the Ukrainian held town of Avdiivka. The
shelling resulted in numerous civilian injuries, one civilian death,
and seven military deaths. A spokesperson for the Donetsk
separatists, Eduard Basurin, confirmed that five of their soldiers
were also killed in action.
Meanwhile Ukraine’s defense minister,
Stepan Poltorak, claimed on Wednesday that a Ukrainian military
transport aircraft had taken small arms fire while flying over the
He said that the gunfire came from a
“Russian-captured oil rig” near the Odessa gas fields.
An unnamed diplomatic source told the Wall Street Journal that NATO's engaging with Ukraine could “fuel an overreaction by the Russians.”
The NATO missile shield has long been a contentious issue with the Kremlin, who claim that the system could render their nuclear deterrent useless. U.S. Officials have long denied the allegations, saying that the shield will be positioned to counter possible attacks from Iran.
The Romanian missile-defense site will be a the center of a larger missile deterrence network of U.S. ships armed with radars and missile interceptors. The ships regularly patrol the Mediterranean Sea and occasionally enter the Baltic or Black Sea near Russia.
The construction of a second missile defense installation in Poland had already begun, and is expected to go online in 2018.