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Armed Services chair: New military aid for Ukraine falls short

Armed Services chair: New military aid for Ukraine falls short

The chairman of the House Armed Services Committee says President Obama's decision to provide Ukraine with unarmed drones and Humvees isn't enough to help the country defeat Russian-backed rebels.

"The Ukrainians cannot defend themselves with non lethal aid," Chairman Mac ThornberryWilliam (Mac) McClellan ThornberryUnnamed law enforcement banned under the new NDAA Lobbying world Senate poised to override Trump's defense bill veto MORE (R-Texas) said in a statement Thursday. "While some of the items that the Administration has decided to provide are needed, what Ukraine really needs are weapons that will make a difference."

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The White House on Wednesday announced the U.S. will provide $75 million in nonlethal military aid to Ukraine, including 200 unarmored vehicles, 30 armored vehicles and small unarmed drones.

The move comes amid growing congressional pressure for the U.S. to provide lethal aid to Ukraine, which is fighting separatist groups backed by Moscow. Lawmakers have pushed the administration to act since Russian forces invaded Crimea nearly a year ago. But the White House is reluctant to provide lethal aid, fearing it will provoke further aggression from Russia.

"There is bipartisan support in Congress for providing that assistance, and the Obama Administration should listen to Congress and to Ukrainian leaders," Thornberry said Thursday.  

Last month, Thornberry and Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), the top Democrat on the Armed Services panel, introduced legislation that would provide Ukraine with $1 billion in military assistance, including lethal aid.

A bipartisan group on the Senate Armed Services Committee also called on the administration last month to arm Ukraine and earlier this week sent a letter to leaders on the Senate Appropriations Committee to provide $350 million in lethal aid.

State Department officials say more than 6,000 Ukrainians have been killed in attacks. 

The focus instead has been on leveling sanctions with European partners on Moscow and providing Kiev with about $200 million in nonlethal aid.

But the White House has not ruled out providing lethal assistance in the future, saying it is under "active" consideration.