U.S. eyes military supplies for Ukraine, seeks to avoid escalation

WASHINGTON | The Pentagon said on Thursday it was focusing for now on Ukrainian requests for non-lethal support, as opposed to any weaponry, as a senior U.S. official said Washington wanted to avoid further militarizing the standoff with Russia.

Ukraine’s government has put its heavily outnumbered and outgunned forces on alert for an invasion from Russia in the east following Moscow’s seizure of Crimea.

Kiev has asked for military support from the United States, which U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, say includes small arms, as well as non-lethal assistance, such as medical supplies.

So far, the U.S. government has only approved providing military food rations, officials say, as President Barack Obama’s government instead focused on financial support for Ukraine and pressuring Russia diplomatically.

“I think it’s safe to say that right now, the focus of that review (of Ukraine’s military requests) is on the non-lethal side of things,” Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby told a news briefing.

“But it is very much still an active issue under consideration.”

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