Kerry in Kiev, as US weighs sending lethal arms to Ukraine
Kerry arrived in Kiev on Thursday with a pledge of $16.4 million in new US aid and the possibility of providing lethal weapons that the Ukrainian officials say they badly need in order to roll back the pro-Russian forces fighting for territory in the east.
The top US diplomat met Thursday with President Petro Poroshenko to discuss the issue of aid and push for a political dialogue to end the conflict.
“We cannot close our eyes to modern rockets and modern radar capacity that have crossed the border in order to prosecute this conflict despite all promises made during the Minsk agreement” signed in September, Kerry said in a joint conference with Poroshenko.
Kerry accused Russia of "aggression" in eastern Ukraine, and said Moscow needs to show its commitment to diplomacy and take action to "end the bloodshed once and for all.”
The Ukrainian conflict is high on the agenda of a series of meetings in Europe this week.
Outgoing Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is in Belgium attending a meeting of North Atlantic Treaty Organization defense ministers in Brussels, where Vice President Joe Biden is also expected on Friday.
Biden and Kerry will attend an international security conference in Munich, Germany, later this week, which is expected to be dominated by Ukraine and tensions with Russia.
Kerry plans to meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at the Munich conference, and President Poroshenko will see Biden to press for assistance to Ukraine as well as tightening sanctions on Russia.
Meanwhile, US President Barack Obama's pick for defense secretary has said he is very “inclined” toward providing “lethal” weapons to Ukraine.
Ashton Carter, who is expected to be confirmed soon by Congress as the new Pentagon chief, made the remarks before the Senate Armed Services Committee at his confirmation hearing on Wednesday.
The comment is the latest sign that the Obama administration might be considering sending in lethal weaponry despite previous claims that the move could trigger a tense confrontation with Russia.
In Brussels, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance was boosting its presence near Russia’s borders in an effort to counter Moscow's "aggressive actions" in Ukraine.
“Violence is getting worse and the crisis is deepening,” he said