Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko addressed a joint meeting of Congress on Thursday and pleaded for ramped-up military assistance in a war he said belonged to America and Europe as well as Ukraine.
“This is Europe’s and America’s war too. It is a war for the free world,” Poroshenko told Congress in a speech on the floor of the House of Representatives, with House Speaker John Boehner and Vice President Joe Biden seated behind him.
Poroshenko is scheduled to travel to the White House later Thursday to hold a bilateral meeting with President Barack Obama. On the day of his trip, the Obama administration announced it would send an additional $US46 million in security assistance to Ukraine to support its military and border guards.
However, that assistance stops short of lethal aid. The US has provided millions of dollars in non-lethal aid to the Ukrainian military already with items like night-vision goggles and blankets, something Poroshenko chided as a major source of aid.
“They need more military equipment, both lethal and non-lethal, urgently,” Poroshenko said. “One cannot win the war with blankets. One cannot keep the peace with blankets.”
Poroshenko warned of the dangers of Russian aggression in the region. He spoke skeptically of the ceasefire between pro-Russian separatist rebels and the Ukrainian government, which he described as a “so-called ceasefire.” Seventeen Ukrainian soldiers, he said, have been killed by pro-Russian rebels since the ceasefire went into effect about two weeks ago.
He also called on the US to grant Ukraine the special status of being a non-NATO ally, the highest status for a country short of membership in the alliance. Throughout the speech, Poroshenko called the conflict an ongoing “war” that has led to the most uncertain time and the “worst crisis” in the world since the Cuban missile crisis of 1962.
“The Soviet Union has collapsed too quickly, creating the illusion that this chapter in history was closed and that this story has come to the end,” Poroshenko said. “But unfortunately, it has not ended. Their imperialistic mindset is still there.”
Poroshenko earned a rousing standing ovation after he began listing off the countries that have faced Russian aggression in recent years. Bulgaria, Moldova, Georgia, Ukraine. Who’s next?
“I urge you not to let Ukraine stand alone in the face of this aggression,” Poroshenko said.
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