Tags: Russia | ukraine | president | petro poroshenko | congress

Ukraine President to Congress: Defend This Democracy

By    |   Thursday, 18 September 2014 05:36 PM

Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko implored Congress for assistance Thursday, warning peace in Europe depended on a forceful U.S. response to Russian aggression in his nation.

"Our nation decided to be free and democratic," Poroshenko told a joint session of Congress in an approximately 45-minute long plea. "Another nation decided to punish Ukraine for this. The world simply cannot allow this kind of behavior."

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President Barack Obama has pledged full support for Ukraine – and after a meeting with the Ukraine leader in the Oval Office, said the United States would provide Ukraine with the means to "built up effective security forces" and stabilize its economy.

But a $53 million aid package announced Thursday didn't include the lethal military hardware Poroshenko has been seeking.

The military aid package will provide body armor, helmets, vehicles, night and thermal vision devices, advanced radios, patrol boats, counter-mortar radars, rations, tents, and uniforms to Ukraine's border guards, military and national guard units, USA Today reports. 

U.S. military and civilian advisers will also help Ukraine improve its defense capacity.

The newspaper reports the new package brings America's total assistance package to Ukraine to $291 million, and a $1 billion loan guarantee.

But Poroshenko said Ukraine's democracy and its defenders need more political support and more military equipment. "[O]ne cannot win a war with blankets," he said.

Ukraine’s troops "need more political support throughout the world, they need more military equipment, both lethal and non-lethal, urgently needed," he said. "In Ukraine you don’t build a democracy; it already exists. You just defend it."

He also decried Russia's initial aggression as it moved into Crimea.

"With just one move, the world has been thrown back in time — to a reality of territorial claims, zones of influence, criminal aggression and annexations," he said. "The post-war international system of checks and balances was effectively ruined."

Yet, Poroshenko said, he still wants peace.

"I am ready to offer those who live in (separatist areas) more rights than any part of Ukraine has ever had in the history of the nation," he said. "I am ready to discuss anything, except one thing, Ukraine's dismemberment."

He noted the United States made a commitment to support Ukraine's territorial integrity, "and we hope that it will live up to that promise."

Poroshenko's visit to Washington comes days after the United States and European Union toughened their sanctions on Russia over its invasion of Ukrainian territory.

And the Ukraine president was adamant casting his nation's struggles as those of the United States and Europe, too, the Kyiv Post reports.

"It is Europe and America's war, too," Poroshenko said. "It is the war for the free world. I urge you not to let Ukraine stand alone in the face of this threat," adding Russia's "aggression against Ukraine is a threat to global security everywhere."

"He did not waste his 45-minute televised address in front of both houses of the U.S. Congress on simple niceties, as I had feared," the newspaper's chief editor Brian Bonner wrote.

"Porosheko asked for everything Ukraine needs: the honoring of the US commitment in the 1994 Budapet Memorandum to guarantee Ukraine's sovereignty and territory, lethal and non-lethal military aid, a special security status for a non-NATO ally, economic assistance, an investment fund, help reforming Ukraine's economy and justice system and continued tough sanctions against Russia."

"Perhaps most importantly of all, Poroshenko cast Ukraine's struggle as the free world's struggle -- as one of right vs. wrong, freedom vs. oppression, good vs. evil. And he's right, in comparing Ukraine's desire for democracy and European integretation with Russian President Vladimir Putin's desire to block both for Ukraine, while keeping his Kremlin dictatorship alive and to revive the ex-Soviet Union."

Bloomberg news contributed to this report.

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Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko implored Congress for assistance Thursday, warning peace in Europe depended on a forceful U.S. response to Russian aggression in his nation.
ukraine, president, petro poroshenko, congress
Thursday, 18 September 2014 05:36 PM
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