US ships 300,000 MREs to Ukraine military

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The United States delivered 300,000 meals ready to eat to the Ukranian military, the first delivery of American aid to the former Soviet republic, following Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

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The supplies were transported from a military distribution depot in German to the city of Krakovets, on the border between Ukraine and Poland. The meals and associated transportation costs totaled approximately $3 million from the Pentagon budget.

“The Office of Defense Cooperation, U.S. Embassy Kyiv, the Defense Logistics Agency and the U.S. European Command provided a whole of government approach and worked closely with the Ukrainian government to provide this assistance,” the U.S. European Command said in a statement. “More non-lethal items are being considered for future delivery.”

The House is slated to vote soon on a Senate bill that would provide $1 billion in loan guarantees to Ukraine. The legislation also includes additional sanctions against Russia.

Last Thursday, the International Monetary Fund also announced that it had agreed to terms on a two-year standby credit of $14 billion to $18 billion to assist the interim government in Kiev, conditioned on strict economic reforms. The deal is still awaiting final approval from the IMF board, which is expected to come in April.

President Obama heralded the loan program as a "major step forward" for Ukraine at a press conference in Rome on Thursday.

"This significant package of support is going to help Ukraine stabilize its economy and meet the needs of the Ukrainian people over the long term, because it provides the prospect for true growth," Obama said.

White House press secretary Jay Carney said the White House was working with Congress to move the U.S. aid package “quickly” and offering the Ukrainian government technical and financial assistance.

“We also remain committed to providing the IMF with the resources it needs — in partnership with Congress — to provide strong support to countries like Ukraine as well as reinforcing the Fund’s governance to reflect the global economy,” Carney said.