NATO to deploy soldiers in Eastern Europe
NATO will deploy 4,000 soldiers to its Eastern Europe borders on a "rotational" system, the U.S. deputy secretary of state told journalists Wednesday.

Antony Blinken confirmed the move via a teleconference call.

"The challenge in the Eastern Europe comes from the Russian aggression in Ukraine, which has violated the sovereignty and integrity of an independent democratic nation, and impaired the vision of a Europe that were holding in peace that we have labored for many decades to make real," Blinken said.

"It is not a permanent presence, they will not be based there, but it will be a continuous presence, rotational basis. Which means that soldiers will deploy for some months at a time, then they'll come back and will be replaced immediately by another group," he added.

Ukraine and Russia agreed in 2014 on a comprehensive cease-fire deal to end the war in the Donbass region of Ukraine. But the Minsk agreement has had little effect on the conflict.

Escalating fighting last month led to concerns about the future of the deal.

More than 9,300 people have been killed in the last two years in eastern Ukraine, according to the UN.

"Despite the cease-fire that has been in place since September in Ukraine, the OSCE reported a total of 30,000 violations, with 4,000 violations occurred in one day alone, that was April 14, 2016," Blinken said, referring to the Organization of Security and Co-operation in Europe.

Reiterating the U.S.’s position on Russian aggression in Ukraine, Blinken said, "the actions that Moscow took in Ukraine have threatened to set a new precedent on European soil, whereby basic international principles are suddenly up for debate and they should not be.

"Those principles are that the borders and territorial integrity of a state cannot be changed by force, that it is the inherent right of the citizens in a democracy to decide their country's future, not anyone else. These principles transcend Ukraine, they transcend Europe," he said.

"The objective is to keep Syria whole and to have a political transition that brings credible governance."

Asked whether a Kurdish state in Syria is up for question, Blinken reiterated the U.S.’s stance on the issue.

"We seek a unified Syria that keeps the country together, that keeps its institutions intact and that has a secular government in which all of the communities in Syria have an appropriate voice," he said. "That is the objective."

The deputy secretary of state also said that "anything that will carve the country, will simply perpetuate the problems and will create new ones".

Syria has remained locked in a vicious civil war since early 2011, when the Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests -- which erupted as part of the Arab Spring uprisings -- with unexpected ferocity.

Since then, more than 250,000 people have been killed, according to the UN.

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Last Modified: 2016-05-12 09:23:46
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