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    The United States plans to provide military assistance to Ukraine in 2018, media reports said citing the chairman of the House of Representatives’ Armed Services Committee Mac Thornberry.

    A bill on the Defense Department’s 2018 budget will include a provision about military assistance to Ukraine, including in the form of lethal weapons, Thornberry told The Hill on Thursday.

    “[The bill] includes military assistance to Ukraine and calls on the [Trump] Administration to provide lethal aid to the Ukrainians so that they can defend themselves against the aggression from the East,” he stated.

    In May, the US Congress approved the allocation of military assistance worth $150 million to Ukraine under the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative.

    The funds will be available to the Pentagon in order to provide Ukraine with military support, including, in particular, the provision of lethal weapons of defensive nature and equipment, logistics support, intelligence support of the Ukrainian army and national security forces, training of Ukrainian armed forces personnel and other programs.

    Under the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, the total sum of assistance to Ukraine amounts to about $560 million, including $410 million to be allotted to various aid programs and $150 million in military assistance to Kiev.

    Russia and the majority of European politicians have repeatedly spoken out against the planned supply of lethal weapons to Ukraine, warning that this could lead to a further escalation of the armed conflict in Donbass and hamper the implementation of the Minsk accords.

    German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier described this as a very risky and counterproductive way to end the crisis in eastern Ukraine, and the chairman of NATO’s Military Committee, Peter Pavel said that said that he did not see the need for the shipment of lethal weapons to Kiev, because it "will only increase the suffering of people."

    In an interview with Sputnik, the director of the Institute of Public Transformation in Kiev Oleg Soskin said that no formal decision to send lethal weapons to Ukraine in 2018 has yet been made.

    “We are not talking about some huge sums here. What we know for sure, however, is that in the next fiscal year the Americans are going to cut their assistance to Ukraine down to some $300 million. Therefore, I don’t think that the US has changed its mind about its assistance to Ukraine,” Oleg Soskin said.

    He also mentioned the new US administration’s promise to end the previous practice of just handing out money to Kiev without expecting to ever get it back.

    “From now on they will give us money on loan terms only, which means that we will have to give it back. Or we can use the money to buy weapons in the US and keeping their defense industry working. But loans are no longer assistance, are they?” Soskin noted.

    Military spending is a crucial problem for the Ukrainian government, which refuse to adhere to the peaceful settlement of the Donbass conflict.

    Despite a cease-fire, Ukrainian forces continue shelling the self-proclaimed Donbass republics.

    In recent years, the Ukrainian government has been driving up its defense outlays. While in 2016 Ukraine’s defense budget was $4.3 billion, it will reach nearly $5 billion this year, which accounts for 5 percent of GDP.


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    lethal weapons, loans, US assistance, US Defense Department, NATO, US Congress, Peter Pavel, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Oleg Soskin, Mac Thornberry, United States, Ukraine
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