By Amie Parnes - 09/04/14 01:15 PM EDT
President Obama was nowhere to be found during the beginning of a meeting of the NATO-Ukraine commission in Wales on Thursday.
Obama was "noticeably absent" from the start of the meeting, according to a White House pool report, although U.S. Ambassador to NATO Douglas Lute was in attendance.
Back at the Ukraine meeting, leaders were addressed by NATO Secretary General Anders Rasmussen, who urged Russia to stop the "illegal" annexation of Crimea.
“We call on Russia to end its illegal and self-declared annexation of Crimea,” Rasmussen said. “We call on Russia to pull back its troops from Ukraine” and stop the flow of arms to separatists.
Rasmussen said the gathering of the leaders should telegraph a "clear message" to Ukraine that NATO stands with the nation and supports its reforms.
He said leaders would work with Ukraine to modernize its army and improve the ability of Ukrainian and NATO forces to work together.
“The partnership between NATO and Ukraine is strong and we are determined to make it even stronger today and in the future,” he said.
— This story was updated at 1:32 p.m.