05:51 GMT +319 January 2020
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    Ukrainian Defense Minister Stepan Poltorak said that the United States and Ukraine have not discussed the issue of sending lethal weapons to Kiev.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — The United States and Ukraine have not discussed the issue of sending lethal weapons to Kiev, Ukrainian Defense Minister Stepan Poltorak told reporters following a meeting with his US counterpart Ashton Carter on Thursday.

    "The issue of lethal equipment was not on the table," Poltorak said.

    The Ukraine Defense Minister explained Kiev is currently developing its own military industrial complex.

    "We are trying to use our own capabilities and assets. Of course, we would accept assistance to Ukraine not only from the United States, but any other country in the world in order to be able to protect our own country from an occupation of the Russian Federation."

    Poltorak noted, however, the United States and Ukraine have discussed further military cooperation, including on training and exchange of information.

    "Still we have a lot of achievements. We have a lot of plans," he pointed out.

    Ukraine has repeatedly requested lethal aid from the United States, but Washington denied the requests, saying it will provide Kiev only with non-lethal assistance.

    The United States has backed Ukraine in its fight against independence-seeking supporters in the country’s southeast, although its assistance has been limited to training and non-lethal aid.

    European Union member states have largely opposed the United States arming Ukraine with lethal weapons over concerns that such assistance could escalate the conflict.

    The United States and the European Union have both accused Russia of providing support to militias in Ukraine’s southeast, although the accusations have not been supported with any factual evidence and have been repeatedly refuted by Russia.

    US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter told reporters following a meeting with Stepan Poltorak that the United States will have trained 900 Ukraine defense personnel by the end of fall this year.

    "By the end of November, we will have trained 900 Ukrainian National Guard personnel, and we are commencing training Ukrainian regular armed forces thereafter also," Carter announced.

    The Defense Secretary noted that so far, Washington has provided more than $244 million dollars in equipment and training to Ukraine.

    "By strengthening Ukraine’s training capacity, we can strengthen its defense capability. That’s why we remain committed to current training of Ukrainian National guard forces, which is ongoing," Carter said.

    The United States has provided Kiev with non-lethal military assistance since the conflict in eastern Ukraine began. In April, the United States sent 300 troops to Ukraine to train the country’s National Guard.


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