WASHINGTON D.C. – U.S. President Barack Obama hopes that Russia will live up to its obligations under a recently brokered accord to end Ukraine’s ongoing civil strife despite past experiences.
Representatives from Ukraine, the U.S., the European Union and Russia agreed to the deal after seven hours of talks in Geneva on Thursday. The agreement calls for armed groups in Ukraine to lay down their arms and relinquish control of occupied government buildings.
It staves off a potentially damaging new round of economic sanctions on Russia’s already hobbled economy even as the U.S. announced earlier Thursday that it will supply Kiev with $6.5 million in nonlethal military assistance.
“My hope is that we actually do see follow-through over the next several days,” said Obama while speaking to the press Thursday. “But I don't think, given past performance, that we can count on that.”
Pro-Russian protesters in eastern and southern Ukraine seized several government offices in recent weeks. Three were killed and 13 others injured as protesters tried to seize a Ukrainian National Guard base in Mariupol on the Sea of Azov overnight.
“It is our belief, and not ours alone, but I think, broad portions of the international community believe that Russia's hand is in the disruptions and chaos that we've been seeing in eastern and southern Ukraine,” remarked Obama.
The American President warned Russia against continuing to foment unrest in Ukraine, saying that the economic impacts of sanctions on Russia’s economy “could get worse”.
The aid will include shipments of helmets, sleeping mats and water purification units for Ukraine’s military, U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said. The U.S. will also supply Ukraine’s border guard service with shelters, small power generators and hand fuel pumps.
The assistance to Ukraine’s military will be administered by the State Department and will total $3.5 million, while the Pentagon will administer aid to Ukraine’s border guard, which will total $3 million, said Marie Harf, the State Department deputy spokeswoman.
Further aid is under review, according to Hagel.
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