BRUSSELS (Reuters) - NATO will deliver secure communication equipment to Ukraine's military this month, its head Jens Stoltenberg told Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko at a meeting on Thursday over the escalation of its conflict with Russia.
"I told President Poroshenko that I will deliver secure communications equipment for the Ukrainian armed forces by the end of this year," Stoltenberg said, as part of a 40 million euros pledged by allies to strengthen Kiev's armed forces.
Stoltenberg voiced respect for what he called Ukraine's "calm and restraint" during the crisis and reiterated the military alliances' support for the former Soviet nations' aspirations to join - which Moscow vehemently opposes.
Moscow is resisting international calls to release three Ukrainian ships seized last month in the Kerch Strait, which controls access to the Sea of Azov near the Crimea region that Moscow annexed from Ukraine in 2014.
Poroshenko on Thursday said his nation's absolute priority was to seek the return of its sailors. EU leaders will discuss Ukraine and Russia over a summit dinner later in the day.
(Reporting by Alissa de Carbonnel; Editing by Phil Blenkinsop)