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Obama Meets With Poroshenko, Condemns Russian Aggression

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko (left) listens as President Barack Obama talks during their bilateral meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington on September 18.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko (left) listens as President Barack Obama talks during their bilateral meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington on September 18.

U.S. President Barack Obama met with visiting Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko at the White House, offering support and reportedly agreeing on $1 billion in financial guarantees but apparently stopping short of any pledge of weapons.

Poroshenko went into the meeting hoping to convince the U.S. president to provide arms to Ukrainian government forces battling pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.

Before the September 18 meeting with President Obama, Poroshenko noted the United States has been giving Ukraine non-lethal supplies and equipment but Poroshenko said, "Blankets and night visions goggles are important, but one cannot win a war with a blanket."

Poroshenko announced in a tweet that the United States had promised $1 billion in financial guarantees for Kyiv to raise funds on the capital markets.

Ukraine borrowed some $1 billion on capital markets under a similar U.S. guarantee earlier this year.

Poroshenko walked away without guarantees that the United States was prepared to help arm Ukraine's military, however.

Speaking in the Oval Office after the two presidents held their meeting, Obama condemned what he called "Russian aggression, first in Crimea, and most recently in portions of eastern Ukraine."

Obama praised Poroshenko, saying his leadership has "been critical at a very important time in Ukraine's history."

The U.S. president said Russia's moves in Ukraine were designed to "undermine" critical reforms Poroshenko has been trying to push through in Ukraine, including moves for an "inclusive" government that gave greater autonomy to regions in eastern Ukraine.

Obama said the United States would continue to help Ukraine find a diplomatic solution to the crisis the country faces.

Poroshenko thanked Obama for the "enormous" support the United States has shown Ukraine.

Poroshenko said he and Obama discussed the question of energy and that a U.S. "team" would be in Ukraine next week to review Ukraine's energy situation and needs with winter coming soon.

Poroshenko concluded his comments by saying his top priority and the greatest priority for his nation and its people was peace.

"The only way we can deescalate the situation in the east of my country is the peace process and the peace plan, which included the cease-fire, inclusive dialogue inside of Ukraine, withdrawing Russian troops from my territory, closing the border for troops, for weapons and ammunition, releasing immediately all the hostages, and that is what the whole is waiting for from us," Poroshenko said.

With reporting by Reuters and AP
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