The NATO military alliance signed a deal in Brussels with the government of Ukraine to dispose of weapons-grade explosive materials and to implement a de-mining programme aimed at neutralising the thousands of improvised explosive devices that have been laid in the country’s eastern regions since war broke out between the Ukrainian government and Russia nearly five years ago.

The project – which will involve Ukraine’s defence ministry, its SBU intelligence service, the national guard, and the state border service, as well as military specialists from NATO – to develop methods that will protect civilians from being injured by improvised explosive devices.

The agreement is the latest in a series of accords that designed Ukraine’s armed forces closer to the training and operational standards of NATO members. Kyiv is slowly attempting to massively overhaul its largely obsolete, Soviet-era methods of running its military in the hope that it will be allowed to join NATO’s command structure in the near future, with an eye on eventually becoming a full member of the alliance.

As stated by Ukraine’s defence ministry, the programme falls under the jurisdiction of NATO’s Support and Procurement Agency and is a part of the alliance’s Trust Fund Project.

Alliance members offer support

NATO’s announcement came shortly after both Poland and Slovakia publicly reiterated their support for Ukraine in its ongoing war with Moscow and pro-Russian separatists in the eastern Donbass Region.

Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz and his Slovak counterpart Miroslav Lajčák said that their respective governments would continue to diplomatically back Kyiv in its efforts to re-assert control over its internationally recognised borders, including Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula that Russia invaded and annexed in March 2014.

Slovakia will chair the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in 2019, including overseeing the OSCE’s mission in the Donbass.

Czaputowicz also said that both Poland and Slovakia agree that the implementation of Russia’s Nord Stream-2 pipeline project is a major threat to Europe’s security as it would give Moscow a major say in shaping the EU’s energy policies, while at the same time crippling Ukraine’s economy by cutting it out of the gas supply process.