07:03 GMT18 February 2020
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    The United States should do its best to reinforce the Ukrainian military, US European Command head Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti said during Senate Armed Services Committee Hearing on Wednesday.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — On Wednesday, Ukraine asked the US to grant it the status of a major non-NATO ally. The resolution, addressing US Congress, was backed by 232 lawmakers and cleared the parliament after previously failing to attain the required 226 votes.

    "In terms of lethal support, the Ukrainians are in a very tough fight which you saw. They are very disciplined soldiers, but they are facing what we say are separatists, they are actually Russian proxies in my mind. They are being provided very lethal equipment; the Russians are providing the separatists that," Scaparrotti said.

    "So, we need to reinforce the Ukrainian military as much as we can."

    The Ukrainian legislature cited successful military alliances of this kind between the United States and a number of non-NATO countries, including Australia, New Zealand and Japan, as an alternative to full NATO membership.

    In September 2016, the US House of Representatives approved legislation to allow the supply of lethal "defensive" weapons to Ukraine, but the law still needs to be approved by the US Senate and signed by the US President.

    Russian officials have repeatedly warned against arms deliveries to Ukraine, stressing that it would only escalate the situation in the eastern part of the country.

    Different European politicians, including former OSCE Chairman and German President-elect Frank-Walter Steinmeier, as well as NATO Military Committee Chairman Peter Pavel have also spoken against arms deliveries to Ukraine.

    The Ukrainian government has been conducting a military operation in the country's eastern regions since April 2014, after local residents refused to recognize the new government in Kiev. In February 2015, Kiev and the Donbass militias signed a ceasefire deal. Despite the agreement, both sides have been reporting violations of the ceasefire.


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