(Reuters) – The United States plans to increase non-lethal military assistance to Ukraine, including deliveries of the first Humvee vehicles, having decided for now not to provide weapons, U.S. officials said.
The increase in non-lethal aid to Ukraine, which is grappling with a Russian-backed separatist movement in its east, is expected to be announced on Thursday during a visit to Kiev by Vice President Joe Biden.
The officials, who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity, described it as an expansion of U.S. support for Ukraine’s armed forces, but one that was unlikely to significantly alter the conflict.
The aid falls short of what Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko requested during a visit to Washington in September when he appealed for lethal aid – a request echoed by some U.S. lawmakers in response to what NATO allies say is Russia’s movement of tanks and troops into eastern Ukraine.
Officials in the Obama administration had said Washington believed Ukraine had enough lethal aid and the types of weaponry requested for Ukraine would be of only marginal value. They had also emphasized the need for a diplomatic outcome.
The United States and its European allies have imposed several rounds of economic sanctions on Russia for its seizure of Crimea and incursion into eastern Ukraine.
The new non-lethal aid Biden will present in Kiev includes Humvees from excess supplies in the Pentagon’s inventory, as well as the delivery of previously promised radars that can detect the location of enemy mortars, officials said. They did not specify a dollar value for the assistance.