– US To Send Drones, Humvees To Ukraine, Boost Russia Sanctions As Moscow May “Deploy Nuclear Weapons In Crimea” (ZeroHedge, March 11, 2015):
So much for the second Minsk ceasefire. A few hours ago, the US returned to its strategy of escalating Russian “costs” when it placed sanctions on eight Ukrainian separatists and a Russian bank, warning that recent attacks by rebels armed by Russia violated a European-brokered ceasefire in the war-torn country. The Russian response to the latest sanction pending, but the response may have been hinted at earlier today when an official from Russia’s Foreign Ministery said the nation has the right to deploy nuclear arms in the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea. And finally, indicating that the semi-hot escalation between the US and Russia is close to getting out of control, Vice President Biden told Ukraine’s president Wednesday the U.S. will send more aid to the country, which U.S. officials said will include small drones and armored Humvees.
– US to send more drones, Humvees to Ukraine (RT, March 11, 2015):
Secretary of State John Kerry confirmed US was to send Ukraine more non-lethal military aid, including drones and armored Humvees.
“We are today providing immediately some 75 million dollars of additional non-lethal assistance, immediately, to Ukraine in order to help them in non-lethal assistance,” Kerry told the Senate on Wednesday afternoon during a hearing concerning a proposed war powers act offered by the White House. “And, as you know, other things are currently under consideration.”
The aid has been discussed on the phone by Vice President Joe Biden and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenkoduring a phone call, according to US officials, AP reported.
The aid package includes the small Raven drone system, which can be launched by hand, radios, counter mortar radars, 30 heavily armored Humvees and 200 regular ones.
Washington and other NATO allies have spent in excess of $100 million in security aid to Ukraine, although until now this has been primarily of a non-lethal nature.
“We have over the last 14 months provided $118 million in security assistance” to the Ukrainian authorities, Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland told the House Committee on Foreign Affairs earlier this month.
The US also announced earlier in March that they were planning to send about 300 military advisors to train the Ukrainian army from March through October.
The UK also announced that it will send 75 British military personnel in March who will offer medical, intelligence and infantry training to the Ukrainian army. Poland has also said it is sending military advisors to Ukraine.
Sergey Ryabkov, a deputy Russian foreign minister, said in February that supplying weapons to Ukraine would “escalate the whole situation” and “would be a major blow to the Minsk agreements.”
Russia believes the best chance for peace in Ukraine lies in the Minsk ceasefire agreement, which largely appears to be holding.
“It’s extremely important that the authorities in Kiev have agreed to carry out a deep constitutional reform, to satisfy a desire for self-rule in certain regions – whether that reform is called decentralization, autonomization or federalization. This is the deeper meaning of the Minsk accords,” said President Putin.