US offers Ukraine $5 million to help it fight separatists

The United States is offering Ukraine $5 million in non-lethal assistance to help the country’s military forces in their effort to battle pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.

President Barack Obama announced the money for the purchase of body armor, night vision goggles and communications equipment Wednesday as he met with Ukrainian president-elect Petro Poroshenko in Warsaw, Poland.

Obama also said the international community must support efforts to negotiate with Russia and ensure that Russia does not finance, arm or support separatists in Ukraine. He said the world must be willing to enact consequences against Russia.

President Obama is closing his visit in Poland with a speech at a Freedom Day event marking the 25th anniversary of Poland’s first partially free election.

He then travels to Brussels for a summit of leaders from the Group of Seven nations, which they quickly arranged after deciding to boycott a Group of Eight meeting Russia was to host this week in Sochi. The boycott was in response to Russia’s incursion into Crimea in March.

On Tuesday, the U.S. president proposed a $1 billion effort to boost military training and troop rotations in Europe, including more naval deployments in the Black and Baltic seas. He said he does not believe Ukraine has to choose between having good relations with Europe or with Russia.

Obama is on a three-nation tour of Europe that will include a speech Friday at Omaha Beach in Normandy, France during a ceremony for the 70th anniversary of the allied D-Day invasion against Nazi forces in World War Two.

Russian President Vladimir Putin will also attend. No meetings are scheduled between the Russian and American presidents, but Putin is scheduled to meet in Normandy with French President Francois Hollande, British Prime Minister David Cameron, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.


(Photo via US embassy Warsaw