Wed, 24 Jul 2019

The U.S. Department of Defense says it plans to provide $250 million to enhance Ukraine's military capabilities as the nation continues to battle Russia-backed separatists in its eastern regions.

The latest tranche of assistance will strengthen Ukraine's naval and ground forces through additional training and provision of weapons, the Pentagon said in a statement on June 18.

The list of weapons includes sniper rifles, rocket-propelled grenade launchers, counterartillery radars, and night-vision equipment among other items, the statement said.

The new tranche will bring total U.S. military support to Ukraine since 2014 to $1.5 billion.

Fighting between government forces and the separatists has killed some 13,000 people since the conflict broke out in eastern Ukraine in April 2014, shortly after Russia seized control of the country's Crimean Peninsula.

Russia has provided military, economic, and political support to the separatist fighters who control parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

Western nations have imposed sanctions on Russia for its support to the militants and its seizure of Crimea.

The United States 'remains committed to helping Ukraine,' the Department of Defense said. adding that it would help Kyiv 'strengthen civilian control of the military, promote command and control reforms, enhance transparency and accountability in acquisition and budgeting, and advance defense industry reforms.'

'These reforms will bolster Ukraine's ability to defend its territorial integrity in support of a secure, prosperous, democratic, and free Ukraine,' it said.

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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