Ukraine is shifting the focus of its military operation from rooting out pro-Russia rebels in the east to warding off a broader incursion by Moscow, following major setbacks for Kiev’s forces in fighting in recent days.
Ukrainian Defense Minister Valeriy Heletey said Monday that the army would stop trying to remove separatists from the east, moving instead to a defensive strategy against what he called a “full-scale invasion” of Russian regular troops.His announcement of a drastic change in tactics came as another round of talks in the Belarusian capital of Minsk among Kiev, Moscow and the separatists ended without apparent results beyond agreeing to meet again Friday.
Amid the deteriorating military situation for Kiev, President Barack Obama will travel to Estonia this week to reassure a region rattled by Russia’s incursion into Ukraine that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization remains committed to defending its Baltic members.
Mr. Obama, who departs for Tallinn on Tuesday, will spend a day in Estonia before heading to Wales for a NATO summit, part of an effort to reaffirm that the alliance will stand with Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
NATO leaders this week will approve a military unit to be kept on permanent high alert that can move rapidly when a crisis arises, Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said on Monday. “This force can travel light, but strike hard if needed,” he said.