NATO military committee chief, in Kyiv, calls for strong allied support

Adds new quotes from Ukrainian president, paragraphs 6-8, new Bauer quotes, paragraphs 9-10

March 21 (Reuters) - NATO Military Committee Chief Rob Bauer said during a visit to Kyiv on Thursday that Ukraine's allies should not be too pessimistic about its ability to repel Russian troops and called for important aid to be delivered quickly.

Bauer led the first official visit to Kyiv by a NATO military delegation since February 2022 when Russia sent thousands of troops to Ukraine in a multi-pronged invasion.

Kyiv's troops are facing shortages of ammunition shells and manpower, and are on the back foot in the east where Russian forces are inching forward.

"Ukraine needs even more support. And you need it now. Time in Ukraine is not measured in days, weeks or months. It is measured in human lives. In allied nations a week is a week. In Ukraine a week is a mother, a father, child, friend, lover, lost forever," he told the Kyiv Security Forum.

He hailed Ukraine's resilience and ability to adjust quickly while changing many aspects of modern warfare.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, writing on his website, said he had outlined to Bauer Ukraine's most pressing needs in terms of weapons, ammunition and drones.

Zelenskiy said they discussed NATO's role in coordinating support for Ukraine and developing its defence potential.

Ukraine, the president said, hoped for an assessment of Ukraine's achievements at NATO's forthcoming Washington summit that "will bring Ukraine closer to membership of the alliance".

In his remarks to the security forum, Bauer also said lively debate around a bill on military mobilisation now before Ukraine's parliament was a normal part of a democratic society.

"It's cumbersome in democracy, it's cumbersome in a liberal economy to convince people," he said. "I understand if you are impatient and say it's not going fast enough...But this is unfortunately the way it is.

Bauer also met Ukraine's Army Chief Oleksandr Syrskyi for talks on the current combat situation. Syrskyi said on Facebook that ammunition supplies and air defences were discussed.

With Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba Bauer had a talk on prospects for combat training for Ukrainian servicemen and defence industries cooperation, the ministry said.

"While the world may have been overly optimistic in 2023 we should not make the same mistake becoming overly pessimistic in 2024," Bauer told the forum, expressing confidence in Ukraine's ability to succeed on the battlefield.

(Reporting by Yuliia Dysa; Editing by William Maclean and Ron Popeski Editing by Alistair Bell)


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