WASHINGTON, Oct. 27, 2014 - Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel spoke by phone today with Gen. Col. Stepan Poltorak to congratulate him on his recent appointment as Ukraine's defense minister, Assistant Pentagon Press Secretary Carl Woog said.
In a statement summarizing the call, Woog added that Hagel also congratulated the people of Ukraine for holding successful parliamentary elections yesterday.
"Secretary Hagel discussed with Minister Poltorak the types of security assistance that the United States is providing to address Ukrainian defense requirements," Woog said. "Minister Poltorak also discussed Ukraine's efforts to reform its military and thanked Secretary Hagel for U.S. support in this area."
The U.S.-Ukraine Joint Commission recently held its inaugural meeting in Kyiv, building upon earlier meetings between military officials from U.S. European Command and Ukraine, the assistant press secretary noted, adding that both leaders agreed to continue to build on bilateral discussions in the near future.
"Finally, Secretary Hagel and Minister Poltorak discussed the need for Russian authorities and the separatists to immediately implement all of their obligations under the Sept. 5 ceasefire agreement," Woog said.
*Obama congratulates Ukraine*
Earlier today, President Barack Obama issued a statement on Ukraine's parliamentary elections.
"Despite a challenging security environment in certain regions, millions of Ukrainians turned out across the country to cast their ballots in an orderly and peaceful manner," he said. "I commend the government of Ukraine for the conduct of the campaign and election day vote, which international monitoring organizations assess to have been largely in line with international standards.
"At the same time," he continued, "it is clear that Russian authorities occupying Crimea and Russian-backed separatists in parts of eastern Ukraine prevented many Ukrainian citizens from exercising their democratic rights to participate in national elections and cast their votes."
Obama called on Russia to ensure that its proxies in eastern Ukraine allow voters in the parts of Donetsk and Luhansk subject to the Special Status Law to choose their representatives in legitimate local elections Dec. 7, in keeping with the agreement that Russia and separatist representatives signed in Minsk, Belarus, on Sept. 5.
"The United States will not recognize any election held in separatist-held areas that does not comport with Ukrainian law and is not held with the express consent and under the authority of the Ukrainian government," the president said.