U.S. offers Ukraine security aid
Washington — President Barack Obama will announce $46 million in new security assistance for the Ukrainian military, including equipment to help detect incoming artillery fire. But he will stop short of fulfilling Ukraine's request for lethal aid to help in the fight against Russian-backed separatists.
Senior Obama administration officials detailed the security package Thursday in advance of Obama's meeting with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. The White House meeting is aimed at showing symbolic support for Ukraine's fledgling government as it seeks to deepen ties with the West.
Poroshenko arrived in the U.S. with concrete requests for weapons and other lethal military aid. Despite some support for that request within the Obama administration, officials said the president continues to oppose lethal assistance and does not envision directly arming the Ukrainian military as an effective way to end the monthslong conflict with separatists supported by the Kremlin.
Instead, the package Obama will offer Poroshenko will provide Ukrainian forces with counter-mortar radar to help detect incoming artillery fire. The U.S. also will provide vehicles and patrol boats, body armor and heavy engineering equipment, administration officials said.
The officials said they expect the U.S. to provide more military assistance to Ukraine in the future but did not commit to eventually providing lethal aid. The officials insisted on anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the assistance package by name in advance of the president's announcement.
Beyond military assistance, the U.S. is providing $7 million to international relief organizations to provide humanitarian aid to people affected by the conflict in eastern Ukraine. Obama also is dispatching Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker to Ukraine next week for meetings about how Ukraine can implement reforms that can stabilize its economy and attract more investment.
Meanwhile, Ukraine's cease-fire appears largely to be holding, with one killing reported in the last two days in Donetsk, one of the hardest-hit cities in the conflict, officials said Thursday.
The city council in Donetsk said no deaths were reported in fighting overnight on Wednesday, one of the quietest nights recently in eastern Ukraine. However, Col. Andriy Lysenko, spokesman for Ukraine's National Security and Defense Council, told journalists on Thursday that an emergency worker was killed by fighting near Donetsk's airport.
The city council of Donetsk said in a statement published online that the situation in much of the city was calm, although occasional explosions could still be heard in a neighborhood in the north, near the government-held airport.
A cease-fire declared Sept. 5 has been riddled by repeated violations, and both sides have promised to regroup and continue fighting, if required.
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