Wed Feb 4, 2015 2:10AM
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko says he has “no doubt” the US will provide arms for the fight against the pro-Russians in the country’s eastern regions.
“I have no doubt that a decision on the possible delivery of arms to Ukraine will be approved both by the United States and by our other partners,” Poroshenko told journalists in the northeastern city of Kharkiv on Tuesday.
Poroshenko made the remarks following reports that US Secretary of State John Kerry is prepared for fresh talks about sending weapons to Ukrainian troops while he visits Kiev on Thursday.
“We have to have the means to defend ourselves,” Poroshenko added.
The US has so far given Ukraine non-lethal assistance such as flak jackets, medical supplies, radios and night-vision goggles.
UN slams clashes
Earlier in the day, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights slammed the escalation of violence in eastern Ukraine, calling on both sides to stop targeting civilians.
“Bus stops and public transport, marketplaces, schools and kindergartens, hospitals and residential areas have become battlegrounds in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions of Ukraine — in clear breach of humanitarian law that governs the conduct of armed conflicts,” said Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein.
“The protection of civilians by all parties to the conflict must be of the utmost priority,” he stated, adding, “Any further escalation will prove catastrophic for the 5.2 million people living in the midst of conflict in eastern Ukraine.”
The two mainly Russian-speaking regions of Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine have been the scene of deadly clashes between pro-Russia forces and the Ukrainian army since Kiev’s military operation started in April 2014 in a bid to crush the protests.
Violence intensified in May 2014 after the two flashpoint regions held local referendums in which their residents voted overwhelmingly in favor of independence from Ukraine and joining the Russian Federation.
The fighting has left more than 5,300 people dead and over 12,200 wounded, the United Nations says.