Obama sending more nonlethal aid to Ukraine


Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced Thursday morning that the President Obama has approved additional non-lethal military assistance of “health and welfare items” for Ukrainian forces.

The items include medical supplies, helmets, sleeping mats, water purification units, shelters, hand fuel pumps and small power generators, he said during a Pentagon press briefing.

“The United States continues to stand with Ukraine,” Hagel said, adding that the U.S. would continue to review additional support that can be provided to Ukraine.

Hagel did not say when the aid would arrive, but a Pentagon spokeswoman said the Pentagon and State Department would work closely with the Ukrainian officials to develop a plan for procurement and delivery of the supplies.

The announcement came after Hagel met with the Polish Defense Minister Tomasz Siemoniak at the Pentagon Thursday morning.

“In our meeting today, Minister Siemoniak and I agreed that Russia’s aggression has renewed our resolve to strengthen the NATO alliance,” Hagel said.

Additional measures announced Wednesday by NATO’s secretary general would show that resolve, Hagel said, and are not meant provoke Russia.

“Deescalation has been our focus, and Russia must take steps to make that happen,” Hagel said.

Those additional NATO measures will include more air policing sorties over the Baltics, more allied ships in the Baltic and the eastern Mediterranean Sea, as well as military planners to enhance military training and exercises.

"These measures are not meant to provoke or threaten Russia, but instead to demonstrate NATO's continued dedication to collective defense," Hagel said.

“Article Five is clear that an attack against any one NATO ally would be considered an attack against all members of NATO.”

The Pentagon is also assessing what additional contributions it can offer to reinforce allies in central and eastern Europe.

Hagel said the U.S. and Polish militaries would identify new ways to work together, including special operations forces, air force cooperation and additional exercises and training.

In addition, the U.S. and Poland would build upon their air missile defense collaboration and their joint aviation detachment in Poland, possibly opening it up to cooperation from other countries, including Romania.

--This report was updated at 12:33 p.m.