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President Barack Obama on Thursday pledged that the United States would continue to support Ukrainian leader Petro Poroshenko's fight against pro-Russian rebels, though he declined to provide the lethal aid that Poroshenko was hoping to receive from Washington.
"You have a strong friend not only in me personally, but as you saw in Congress today, you have strong bipartisan support in here in the United States and the people of America stand with you,” Obama said after meeting with Poroshenko in the Oval Office.
The Ukrainian leader said he was impressed by the “enormous support” he received from the White House and Congress during his visit, though his calls for military aid ultimately fell short. Before meeting with the president, Poroshenko delivered a passionate plea to a joint session of Congress for U.S. help in building a strong and modern army in Ukraine.
“Blankets and night-vision goggles are important, but one cannot win a war with blankets,” Poroshenko said.
The White House has resisted Ukrainian calls for lethal aid, saying the best chance to end the ongoing conflict is through diplomacy and that more weapons in the region would only escalate the fight.
Obama did, however, announce a new security package for Ukraine that comes on top of the $60 million in aid the U.S. has already given during throughout the conflict. The White House has also imposed strict sanctions on Russia for its support of the rebels that have taken over parts of eastern Ukraine.
“The war that these men are fighting is not only Ukraine’s war,” Poroshenko told Congress. “It is Europe’s, and it is America’s war too. It is a war of the free world, and for the free world.”
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-- Andrew Rafferty