The United States will soon send medical supplies, helmets and other forms of nonlethal aid to Ukraine’s military, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced Thursday, a move meant to bolster an embattled ally that stops short of supplying the weapons officials in Kiev have sought.
The Pentagon’s decision to send additional military aid comes amid rising tension in eastern Ukraine between the country’s security forces and pro-Russian separatists.
The new aid package will also include sleeping mats and water purification units. Additionally, the U.S. military will provide the country’s Border Guard Service with shelters, generators and fuel pumps.
The new aid, which will total roughly $3.5 million, supplements the 300,000 packaged meals the U.S. military sent Ukraine last month after Russia annexed Crimea, a province in southern Ukraine that is home to a large ethnic Russian population. Officials in Kiev have asked the U.S. government for expedited shipment of weapons, fearing a deepening conflict.
The Obama administration has so far declined to provide lethal aid, fearing the move could provoke an aggressive response from Moscow.
State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said the new supplies would be delivered “as quickly as possible.”
The Pentagon has also offered to make more planning officers available to NATO as the alliance develops new measures meant to reassure former Soviet republics that have grown concerned about their territorial integrity.
Speaking alongside his Polish counterpart at a news conference Friday morning, Hagel called Russia’s actions over the past two months “dangerously irresponsible.” He added: “We have to look, based on past actions, at every possibility.”
Officials at the Pentagon said they will continue to assess additional requests from Ukraine for military equipment in consultation with the State Department.
“Today’s announcement of assistance is not the end,” said Eileen M. Lainez, a Pentagon spokeswoman.