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US aid to Kiev; Mike Pence

Trump heading for a showdown with Pentagon over Ukraine

Just last week, US media reported that Washington was planning to provide military assistance to Ukraine in 2018. Kiev's friend in Washington is Mike Pence: In February, the vice president used the Munich Security Conference to recommit to the NATO military buildup in Eastern Europe.

Published: June 26, 2017, 10:43 am

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    Washington

    “[The bill on Pentagon’s 2018 budget] certainly does continue to include military assistance to Ukraine and encouragement that the administration provide lethal assistance, so Ukrainians can defend themselves against the aggression, that is coming at them from the East,” chairman of the House Armed Services Committee Mac Thornberry said in his answer to a question from Russian news agency TASS.

    The Neocon dissatisfaction with President Trump’s Pentagon budget was revealed when Thornberry unveiled his stinging counterproposal on arming Ukraine, signalling a showdown between the Pentagon and Trump.

    On May 10 Pence met with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin in the White House and reiterated his assurances from Munich, “for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” according to a readout of the meeting.

    Andrea Thompson, the vice president’s national security advisor, said at the 2017 GLOBSEC forum in Bratislava, Slovakia, that Trump and Pence agree completely on Ukraine: “There is no gap between the President and the Vice President.” She was sitting next to Klimkin.

    On Fox News Channel last week, Republican Liz Cheney, the lesbian daughter of former Defense Secretary and Vice President Dick Cheney, noted that both Thornberry and his Senate counterpart John McCain also agree on arming Ukraine.

    In early May, the US Senate approved the draft federal budget until September 30, 2017, in which the country continues to provide financial assistance to Ukraine including military support, but weapons supplies are a violation of the Minsk agreements.

    Andrei Krasov, the first deputy chair of Russia’s lower house of parliament defense committee, said Washington should convince Ukrainian president Poroshenko to observe the Minsk agreements rather, instead of supplying weapons to Kiev.

    “By providing Kiev with weapons that are more than just defensive, they will only add more fuel to the current crisis. Instead of supplying weapons, Washington should convince Poroshenko and his government to start implementing the Minsk agreements. This is the only way to start resolving the crisis,” Krasov told Sputnik.

    Franz Klintsevich, First Deputy Chairman of the Russian Federation Council Committee on Defense and Security, said that the meaning of “defensive weapons” was quite a relative term.

    “These supplies will be perceived by Kiev as a confirmation of validity of its course in Donbass, and this will further destabilize the situation,” Klintsevich added.

    Meanwhile the US Department of Defense on Sunday refused to comment on claims that Defense Secretary Jim Mattis may visit Ukraine soon, after Poroshenko said on Sunday that he expected the visit of Mattis to Ukraine within two or three months.

    On Friday, Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement about Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s recently held a telephone conversation with his US counterpart Rex Tillerson, regarding the renewal of US sanctions against Russia.

    During the conversation, Lavrov said Moscow was still waiting for an answer from Washington on its proposals concerning the normalisation of bilateral relations between the two countries.

    FWM columnist dr Paul Craig Roberts, suggested that it would be difficult for Trump to improve relations with Russia when the commander of US forces in Europe was openly threatening Russia. The commander of US forces in Europe, General Ben Hodges, lined up tanks on Poland’s border with Russia and fired salvos “that the general says are a message to Russia, not a training exercise”.

    Roberts added: “Clearly, Trump is not in control of the most important part of his agenda – peace with the thermo-nuclear powers and cessation of interference in the affairs of other countries.”

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