Just days after Russia offered to work with the U.S. in resolving the conflict in eastern Ukraine, the Department of Defense on Friday announced that it will give the Ukrainian government $200 million in security assistance.
“This reaffirms the long-standing defense relationship between the United States and Ukraine, and brings the total U.S. security sector assistance to Ukraine to more than $1 billion since 2014,” a statement from the Department of Defense read. “The implementation of these reforms will bolster Ukraine’s ability to defend its territorial integrity in support of a secure and democratic Ukraine.”
The Pentagon released the funds after Ukraine passed a new national-security law that “will further deepen Ukraine’s Western integration,” State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said in a statement after the law passed.
“The United States stands ready to continue supporting Ukraine’s defense and security sector reforms to bolster Ukraine’s ability to defend its territorial integrity,” Nauert said.
The additional aid comes as Russian-backed separatist groups in eastern Ukraine continue to fight government troops for control of the region. The White House said Friday that the U.S. will not consider a referendum on the independence sought by the separatists, a move Russian president Vladimir Putin reportedly suggested to President Trump during their summit earlier this week.
“The Administration is not considering supporting a referendum in the eastern Ukraine,” read a statement from National Security Council spokesman Garrett Marquis.