Obama sends Humvees, drones to Ukraine

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The Obama administration on Wednesday announced it will send $75 million in aid to Ukrainian security forces, though the package that will not include the lethal arms that members of Congress are demanding.

The equipment includes 30 armored Humvees and up to 200 additional unarmored Humvees, as well as drones, radios, counter-mortar radar, night-vision devices and medical supplies, according to a senior administration official.

Vice President Biden informed Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko of the aid package in a phone call on Wednesday, the White House said.

{mosads}President Obama is facing heavy pressure from both parties to send arms to Ukraine, but has refused to take that step, citing fears of an escalation in the conflict with Russia.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest on Wednesday said Obama wants to avoid “greater bloodshed” in Ukraine, which is why he is not sending lethal aid. But Earnest wouldn’t rule out providing arms in the future, noting that Obama is “continuing to evaluate” the situation there.

The aid package comes at a time when Western leaders are increasingly concerned about whether a ceasefire with Russian-backed separatists will hold.

Biden “noted with concern the ongoing violations of the ceasefire by Russia-backed separatists near Donetsk and Mariupol and their refusal to allow OSCE monitors unfettered access to the territory they occupy,” according to a White House readout.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Wednesday the cease-fire between Ukrainian forces and separatists appears to be in effect, but also expressed concern that monitors have faced obstacles in verifying whether the conditions are being enforced.

The $75 million figure includes the cost of the drones and other supplies, the administration official said. The price tag for the Humvees was not specified.

A Pentagon official said the drones are unarmed Raven drones, but did not say how many would be sent to Ukrainian forces. Previous aid provided to Ukraine includes body armor, helmets and patrol boats, according to the Pentagon.

— Updated at 12:53 p.m. Kristina Wong contributed.

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