Pentagon Chief in Ukraine: US Mulls Providing Kiev With Lethal Weapons

© REUTERS / Gleb GaranichU.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Ukraine's Defence Minister Stepan Poltorak walk past honour guards during a welcoming ceremony in Kiev, Ukraine August 24, 2017
U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Ukraine's Defence Minister Stepan Poltorak walk past honour guards during a welcoming ceremony in Kiev, Ukraine August 24, 2017 - Sputnik International
The United States is considering deliveries of lethal weapons to Ukraine and intends to continue supporting Ukraine in defense of its territory and people, US Defense Secretary James Mattis said Thursday at a joint briefing with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.

KIEV (Sputnik) — Mattis said that he would submit concrete recommendations on future policy on Ukraine to the US leadership upon his return to the United States.

Poroshenko, in turn, said that it would be better to refrain from discussing the potential deliveries until the ultimate decision was made. The Ukrainian president added that he was happy with the overall state of Ukraine's relationship with the United States.

​Ukraine, which has been mired in a in the southeastern regions for three years, has repeatedly asked for the deployemnt of UN eacekeepers in Donbass and for the supplies of lethal and non-lethal weapons from the European Union and the United States. However, many officials in the EU and Russia have spoken against the move, which they said could undermine the peace process.

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Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov told Sputnik Radio earlier in August that deliveries of lethal arms would destabilize the situation in Ukraine, in particular in its southeast. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has said that such deliveries would not contribute to the peaceful resolution of the conflict between Kiev and two self-proclaimed republics in the southeast of Ukraine.

The chairman of the NATO Military Committee, Gen. Petr Pavel, said in 2016 that the deliveries of lethal arms would only deepen the suffering of the people caught up in the conflict.

Speaking on Thursday in Kiev, Mattis said that Washington had recently approved deliveries of various technology, worth of $175 million, including special equipment that wold boost Ukraine's defense capabilities.

According to the defense secretary, the allies of the United States would continue putting pressure on Russia to ensure that it adhered to the Minsk agreement.

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In 2015, the parties to the Ukrainian conflict reached a ceasefire agreement in Minsk, brokered by the leaders of the Normandy Four group, comprised of Germany, Russia, Ukraine and France.

The US defense secretary also said that Washington would keep backing Kiev in its efforts to defend the country and the people and expressed support for the ongoing reforms of the country's defense sector, adding that Washington expected Ukraine to implement all NATO requirements.

In July, Poroshenko signed a bill approved by the parliament on June 8, securing the country's aspiration to join NATO as Kiev's foreign policy priority.

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