Pentagon to Ukrainian forces: 'Stay on sidelines'

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After deadly clashes between protesters and police in Ukraine on Tuesday, the Pentagon urged the Ukrainian Armed Forces to “stay on the sidelines.” 

"The Department of Defense is encouraged that the Ukrainian Armed Forces have not been brought into this crisis. We urge them to remain on the sidelines,” said Pentagon spokesman Army Col. Steve Warren. 

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"Participation would have consequences on our defense relationship,” Warren said, although he added he was “not prepared to get into the details of the consequences.” 

Thousands of protesters gathered in central Kiev a day after 26 were killed and about 250 injured there on Tuesday. 

Gen. Phil Breedlove, commander of U.S. European Command and NATO Supreme Allied Commander, followed up on Twitter with the same message.

“As NATO's military commander I ask that responsible leaders avoid the use of military force against the people of Ukraine,” Breedlove tweeted around 2 p.m.

“I am calling upon the new military leadership in Ukraine to open a dialog with us to bring this situation to a peaceful resolution,” he said in a second tweet. 

According to the website of the U.S. Embassy’s Office of Defense Cooperation in Ukraine, the United States provides military equipment and training to support the modernization of Ukraine’s military.

Since 1992, U.S. military teams have been deployed to Ukraine to train the country's military, and has allowed Ukrainian military and civilian personnel to train inside the U.S. 

There is also a Foreign Military Sales program with Ukraine, which provides it with funds to purchase U.S. military equipment, as well as a California-Ukraine State Partnership Program, which promotes democracy, free market economies and military reform in Ukraine.