US considers arming Ukraine forces
EU ready to call summit next week to toughen Russia sanctions -
BERLIN — The United States is considering supplying arms to Ukraine, where unrest in eastern cities bears the hallmarks of a Russian destabilisation drive, an adviser to Secretary of State John Kerry said yesterday.
Ukraine’s president yesterday threatened military action after pro-Russian separatists occupying government buildings in the east ignored an ultimatum to leave and another group of rebels attacked a police headquarters in the troubled region.
Asked during a trip to Berlin whether the United States could arm Ukrainian forces, senior diplomat Thomas Shannon said: “Obviously we are looking at that as an option… but at this point I can’t anticipate whether or not we are going to do that.”
Republican Senator John McCain has suggested providing weapons to the Ukraine government, which says the occupations that began on Sunday are part of a Russian-led plan to dismember the country.
“From our point of view what we are seeing in a series of cities mimics what we saw in Crimea both in terms of the tactics and in terms of the people involved,” said Shannon, who holds the title of counsellor.
“From our point of view there is a very obvious Russian hand in all of this and we consider these actions to be destabilising and dangerous.”
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has dismissed Western accusations that Moscow is destabilising Ukraine, saying the situation could improve only if Kiev took into account the interests of Russian-speaking regions.
In Luxembourg, the European Union said it is prepared if needed to call a Ukraine crisis summit next week to toughen sanctions against Russia.
Saying it “appears obvious” Russia bears some responsibility for the violence in eastern Ukraine, , France’s Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said that “should it be necessary, there can be a meeting next week of Europe’s heads of state and government to agree new sanctions.”
The United States yesterday also signed a $1 billion loan guarantee for Ukraine, part of an aid package to support the country’s economic recovery.
“The Ukrainian people have demonstrated tremendous courage as they have charted an independent course for their country and demanded a government that truly reflects the will of the people,” US Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew said in a statement.
“The United States has been at the forefront of building international support for Ukraine, and holding Russia accountable for its violation of Ukrainian sovereignty and destabilising action.”
Lew announced the signing after meeting Ukrainian Finance Minister Oleksandr Shlapak in Washington.
The loan guarantee will reinforce the Ukrainian government’s efforts to provide critical services as it implements reforms, while protecting the most vulnerable households from the impact of the necessary economic adjustment, Lew said.
Lew praised the work of Shlapak and his team in setting up a comprehensive economic reform program together with the International Monetary Fund.