Ukraine leader 'satisfied' after Obama meeting

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko told reporters following a meeting with President Obama on Thursday he was "satisfied" with the military assistance offered by the U.S., despite the administration declining his call for lethal aid to Ukraine's military.

"I cannot say more that I am satisfied," Poroshenko told reporters following the meeting.


The Ukrainian leader said he had asked Obama to increase cooperation on security and defense in the meeting, but sidestepped a question about whether Kiev was receiving all the aid it needed.

"I'm getting everything that is possible," Poroshenko said.

Earlier Thursday, the White House announced a new $53 million aid package for Ukraine, including $7 million for international relief organizations providing humanitarian aid to civilians impacted by the fighting between Kiev and pro-Russian separatists. Another $46 million will go to assist the Ukrainian military and border guards.

"We reaffirmed this assistance to Ukraine and we are providing additional assistance," Obama said during the Oval Office meeting with the Ukrainian leader.

But the new assistance did not include the lethal aid Poroshenko called for in a speech to a joint meeting of Congress earlier in the day.

In the speech, Poroshenko told lawmakers "one cannot win a war with blankets."

"The security assurances that were extended to Ukraine then have failed to work, proving that no agreements or treaties can secure world order," he said. "Therefore, I urge you not to let Ukraine stand alone in the face of this aggression."

Pressed on the president's decision not to provide lethal aid, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Thursday that U.S. assistance was "extensive."

"This is a conflict that will not be satisfactorily resolved on the battlefield," the press secretary added. "There is an opportunity for these differences to be resolved around the negotiating table. That’s where they should be resolved. And the Ukrainian government will have the support of the international community as they try to engage these Russian-backed separatists in conversations."

During a subsequent interview with CNN's "The Situation Room," Poroshenko revealed that Obama had also flatly denied his request for major non-NATO ally status. 

That designation, granted to 15 countries including Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and Israel, carries a variety of benefits, including access to Pentagon development projects and military surplus supplies, and permission to use American financing to purchase defense equipment.

"He said, No, because we already have a special status for the level of the cooperation between the United States and Ukraine," Poroshenko said. "The level of the security and defense cooperation is much higher than just the status of the major non-NATO ally, for example, granting to the Argentina."

But Poroshenko again insisted he was "absolutely" satisfied and not disappointed with Obama's decision.

"We received more than we asked," he said.

This post was updated at 6:18 p.m.