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Ukraine PM Presses for Weapons, Aid From West

  • VOA News

Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko speaks with U.S. servicemen who delivered counterbattery radars for the Ukrainian army in Lviv, Ukraine, Nov. 14, 2015.

Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko speaks with U.S. servicemen who delivered counterbattery radars for the Ukrainian army in Lviv, Ukraine, Nov. 14, 2015.

Ukraine's Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk has again called for defensive weaponry and strong economic support from the West, saying the help is needed to defend national borders against Russian aggression.

Yatsenyuk's comments to VOA's Myroslava Gongadze came ahead of a visit early next month by U.S. Vice President Joe Biden. The vice president is expected to review Ukraine's recent anti-corruption efforts, including tax reforms, as Washington prepares to sign off on a third $1 billion loan guarantee to Kyiv.

The Obama administration has already provided $470 million in direct economic assistance since Moscow ally and former President Viktor Yanukovych was driven from power early last year.

The prime minister cited recent reforms to Ukraine's natural gas and oil sector, which distributes Russian energy imports needed to heat homes and power Ukrainian factories. He also touted Kyiv's new National Anti-Corruption Bureau and said Washington was providing support for training anti-corruption detectives.

Biden said earlier this year that in exchange for continued U.S. support, Ukraine must investigate and prosecute corruption at all levels of government and the private sector while pressing forward with political reforms.

But the Obama administration has thus far not provided Kyiv with weaponry, and there are no visible signs it is ready to start.

Last February, U.S. National Intelligence Director James Clapper told a congressional panel that supplying Ukraine with weapons to fight Moscow-backed separatists would provoke a "negative reaction" from Moscow. He said that a Russian response to providing such hardware to Ukraine — a non-NATO country — could prompt Moscow to increase its supply of weaponry to pro-Russian rebels seeking autonomy in Ukraine's east.

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