LONDON — U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter has appointed a retired U.S. Army general as a special adviser to Ukraine’s defense minister.

The Pentagon says John Abizaid (AB’-ih-zayd) will advise defense chief Stepan Poltorak as Ukraine tries to strengthen democratic civilian control of its military, take on corruption and put in place other reforms.

Carter and Poltorak met Thursday on the sidelines of a U.N. peacekeeping conference in London. Carter tells reporters the appointment wasn’t a signal of U.S. plans to help Ukraine in offensive operations against Russian forces in eastern Ukraine.

Carter says “it continues in the same vein” of defensive-oriented U.S. military assistance.

Abizaid led Central Command from July 2003 to March 2007. That command oversees U.S. military operations in Afghanistan and the Mideast, including against the Islamic State group.