Ukraine is set on civilized way to return its temporarily occupied territories – Defense Minister

The conflict in Donbas must be settled by political and diplomatic means, Ukrainian Defense Minister Andriy Taran said.

"Ukraine is set on a civilized way to return its temporarily occupied territories. At the same time, there can be no compromises in defending Ukraine's interests," Taran said in a statement released on Saturday.

The events of the past two weeks show that it is necessary to increase joint efforts of the military and diplomats both in Ukraine and on the international arena, the minister said. "First of all, it concerns the strengthening of the sanctions pressure against the Russian Federation, closer cooperation in the exchange of intelligence, in particular in the Black Sea region, as well as concerted actions of our diplomats on all international platforms," Taran said.

The most efficient mechanism of informing Moscow about the international community's stance on Ukraine would be accelerating "the implementation of the 2008 NATO Bucharest Summit decision on our way to membership in the Alliance," he said.

The first priority of the Ukrainian political leadership is acquiring the NATO Membership Action Plan this year, Taran said.

"Euro-Atlantic integration is the key to Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity. Both Ukraine and NATO will benefit from such a decision," he said.

At the same time, Taran suggested that "the true goals of the Russian Federation's increase in the military presence near the border of Ukraine [..] might be to increase pressure on Ukraine to force concessions in the negotiation process." He said he believes that "the strategic goal of the Russian Federation remains the return of Ukraine under Russian control and disruption of our Euro-Atlantic development. "