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Biden Arrives In Ukraine Amid Reports Of Boost In Nonlethal Military Aid


U.S. Vice President Joe Biden (file photo)

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden (file photo)

U.S. President Joe Biden has arrived in Kyiv for a visit amid expectations he will announce an increase nonlethal military assistance to Ukraine.

Reuters quotes U.S. officials as saying privately that the nonlethal aid Biden will announce in Kyiv includes Humvees from excess supplies in the Pentagon's inventory, as well as the delivery of previously promised radars that can detect the location of enemy mortars.

The reports do not specify a dollar value for the assistance.

Russia warned the United States on November 20 against supplying arms to Ukrainian forces.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Aleksandr Lukashevich cautioned against "a major change in policy of the [U.S.] administration in regard to the conflict" in Ukraine.

He was commenting on remarks by U.S. President Barack Obama's choice to fill the number two spot at the State Department, Anthony Blinken, who told a congressional hearing on November 19 that lethal assistance "remains on the table. It's something that we're looking at."

The U.S. State Department's Director of Press Relations Jeffrey Rathke on November 20 told reporters that "our position on lethal aid hasn't changed. Nothing is off the table and we continue to believe there's no military solution."

He added, "But, in light of Russia's actions as the nominee mentioned yesterday in his testimony, as he indicated, this is something that we should be looking at."

The aid expected to be announced by Biden falls short of what Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko requested during a visit to Washington in September when he appealed for lethal aid -- a request echoed by some U.S. lawmakers in response to what NATO allies say is Russia's movement of tanks and troops into eastern Ukraine.

Previous nonlethal aid to Ukraine includes $53 million announced in September for military equipment such as counter-mortar detection units, body armor, binoculars, small boats, and other gear for Ukraine's security forces and border guards in the east.

The United States and its European allies have imposed several rounds of economic sanctions on Russia for its seizure of Crimea and incursion into eastern Ukraine.

Based on reporting by Reuters, AFP, and RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service
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