- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 18, 2014

President Obama told Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko Thursday that the U.S. supports Ukraine “in words and deeds,” but the two leaders dodged questions about the administration’s refusal to send heavy weapons to Kiev for its war with Russian-backed separatists.

Addressing reporters after their 90-minute meeting in the Oval Office, Mr. Obama called the Ukrainian leader “the right man for the job.”

“You have a strong friend in me personally,” Mr. Obama told Mr. Poroshenko, who was elected in May.

The meeting came after the administration announced it would send $53 million in new aid to Kiev, including $46 million in nonlethal security assistance and $7 million in humanitarian assistance.

Mr. Poroshenko thanked Mr. Obama for the increased aid, saying “a friend in need is a friend indeed.”

But the Ukrainian president made clear during a joint meeting of Congress Thursday morning that while the administration’s promise of additional financial support is welcome, lethal weaponry remains a high priority for Ukraine security forces.

To date, the United States has given Ukraine solely nonlethal equipment, such as prepackaged meals, first aid kits, radios, uniform clothing, sleeping mats, helmets, explosive ordinance disposal robots and body armor, Pentagon spokeswoman Eileen Lainez said. Additional items, such as night-vision goggles and thermal imagery equipment will be en route to the former Soviet bloc country in the coming weeks, Ms. Lainez said.

But that is not enough, Mr. Poroshenko told U.S. lawmakers.

“Please understand me, blankets and night vision goggles are also important, but one cannot win the war with blankets,” he said.

The new funding and support comes as Ukraine is caught in a tenuous cease-fire with the Russian-backed rebels, with whom the country’s forces have been fighting since early spring. Despite a Sept. 5 cease-fire, Ukrainian security forces and separatists have continued to exchange fire in the southeast portion of the country.

The ongoing violence has prompted Mr. Poroshenko to forge a new economic and political pact with the European Union and drum up Western support.

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide