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US Gives Ukraine Additional $23 Million in Humanitarian Assistance

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, right, and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko walk after their meeting in Kyiv, Ukraine, July 7, 2016.

The United States will give Ukraine nearly $23 million in additional humanitarian assistance to help it deal with the crisis in the eastern part of the country.

Secretary of State John Kerry announced the new aid package Thursday in Kyiv where he met with top officials, including President Petro Poroshenko and Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman, to discuss Ukraine's reforms and the fragile cease-fire in eastern Ukraine.

U.S. humanitarian assistance to Ukraine since the start of the crisis in 2014 now totals more than $135 million.

The funding will support the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) and other international humanitarian organizations in providing for the basic survival needs of thousands of people affected by the ongoing conflict between Ukrainian government troops and the Russian-backed separatists in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of eastern Ukraine.

According to the U.N., there are more than 3.1 million vulnerable people in Ukraine, including many children, disabled and elderly individuals.

Speaking to reporters in Kyiv, Kerry said that there is an "urgency" to fully implement the Minsk agreement to end the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

Kerry said that lives continue to be lost along the line separating government and Russia-backed forces in eastern Ukraine.

“The United States is not satisfied with any day that goes by that lives are lost. So there is an urgency that we do feel with respect to the full implementation of the Minsk Agreement," he said.

U.S. officials have denied that Kerry's visit is intended to send a message to Moscow ahead of Friday's NATO summit in Warsaw, Poland, during which alliance members will address the military threat from Russia following its annexation of Ukraine's Crimea peninsula in 2014.

On Wednesday, Kerry visited the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, where he signed an agreement to boost U.S.-Georgia military cooperation.

Like Ukraine, Georgia is concerned about Russia's activities on its territory and has sought to associate with NATO and the European Union.