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Top NATO commander reaches Ukrainian military chief

Feb. 21, 2014 - 12:47PM   |  
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NATO's top military commander spoke by telephone with the head of Ukraine's armed forces Friday, amid growing concerns about the political crisis there.

Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove, who also serves as commander of U.S. forces in Europe, spoke with Adm. Yuriy Ilyin.

"The nature of the call was positive," said Lt. Col. Mark Cheadle, a NATO spokesman. "They discussed the value of our bilateral relationship, and agreed to continue to maintain an open dialogue."

Officials did not release further details about the call, but Breedlove and other U.S. officials had urged Ukraine's military not to allow itself to be used to suppress the protests.

The conversation Friday appears to be the first conversation between a U.S. and Ukrainian military official since violence heated up again this week.

On Thursday Rear Adm. John Kirby, a Pentagon spokesman, said Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel had been unable to get through to his Ukrainian counterpart this week.

"We haven't been able to connect with anybody from the Defense Ministry there in Ukraine," Kirby said.

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