NATO weighs lethal aid for Ukraine

NATO countries are weighing whether to equip the Ukrainian military with lethal military aid, with an announcement of possible measures expected before the end of the week, the U.S. general who serves as NATO's supreme allied commander for Europe said Thursday.

"Many nations are looking at bilateral aid, both lethal and non-lethal," Gen. Philip Breedlove said in an interview with NPR News. "And then, NATO will also be looking at its aid to Ukraine as an alliance. And all of that should be announced over the next, say, 36 hours."

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The United States has so far opted against providing military assistance to the government in Kiev, with the White House saying repeatedly there is no "military solution" to the clashes between the central Ukrainian government and pro-Russian separatists.

The U.S. has already provided $60 million for nonlethal assistance, including night vision goggles, body armor, communications equipment, medical supplies and rations. NATO is also expected to approve a $15.8 million aid package that would boost Kiev’s military and cyber defense capabilities, and the U.S. and European allies are expected to conduct joint military drills in western Ukraine later this month.

But pressure on the administration to escalate aid has increased in recent days, with NATO satellites showing Russian troops operating across the border in eastern Ukraine.

Reps. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) and Jim GerlachJames (Jim) Gerlach2018 midterms: The blue wave or a red dawn? Pa. GOP 'disappointed' by rep retiring after filing deadline Pennsylvania Republican Costello won't seek reelection MORE (R-Pa.) have introduced a bill that would provide Kiev with military supplies and additional intelligence capabilities, and other top congressional Democrats have voiced support for lethal aid.

"We have equipment coming out of Afghanistan. I think it would be very easy for this to happen," Kaptur said Wednesday during an interview with CNN. "The Ukrainians have to fight their own battle, again, against Russian forces without intelligence. It's very, very difficult, and my goodness, they didn't even have equipment to stop tanks that were coming over their border."

Among the arms reportedly under consideration are Javelin anti-tank missiles, which could help Ukraine repel the heavily armed vehicles crossing the border from Russia.

President Obama met with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and other European leaders Thursday morning on the sidelines of the NATO summit in Wales. Poroshenko was expected to brief the heads of state on current peace negotiations with Moscow, and will address a session of the NATO-Ukraine Council later in the summit.