Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko asked Congress Thursday to provide more assistance, including military equipment, to aid his government’s fight against Russian-backed separatists.
“I urge America to help us rise and be equal to its natural and manifest role — I urge America to lead the way,” Poroshenko told a joint session of Congress.
He urged lawmakers to provide more political support, as well as “military equipment, both lethal and non-lethal” to Ukrainian soldiers. “Blankets and night-vision goggles are important,” he said. “But one cannot win a war with blankets.”
On Wednesday morning, the White House announced a further $53 million in aid to Ukraine — but no military assistance. Including the latest installment, the United States has provided $219 million in aid to that nation so far this year.
The Ukrainian president, who received several standing ovations, urged Congress “not to let Ukraine stand alone in the face of this aggression” and asked for “special, non-allied partner status” for Ukraine.
Poroshenko also compared the fighting in Ukraine to the Middle East. “Just like Israel, Ukraine has the right to defend her territory — and it will do so, with all the courage of her heart and dedication of her soul,” he said.
His Washington visit came just days after the United States imposed the latest round of sanctions against Russia following the annexation of Crimea. The sanctions announced last Friday by the Treasury Department targeted the energy, defense and financial services sectors of the Russian economy.
Poroshenko is visiting several countries to gather international support for his government's position. He visited the Canadian parliament Wednesday.
After his Hill visit Thursday morning, Poroshenko was scheduled to have lunch with Vice President Biden at the Naval Observatory before meeting with President Obama at the White House this afternoon.
"Maybe the picture of President Poroshenko sitting in the Oval Office will be worth at least a thousand words, both in English and Russian," White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters Wednesday.