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Nominee to Head Pentagon Backs 'Lethal Aid' to Ukraine

by VOA News February 04, 2015

President Barack Obama's choice to become U.S. defense secretary said Wednesday that he is inclined to support supplying Ukraine with 'lethal arms' to fight Russia-backed insurgents.

Ashton Carter made the comment at his Senate confirmation hearing, after Republican Senator John McCain asked if the nominee thought the United States should supply Kyiv with weapons to fight the rebels in eastern Ukraine. The hearing took place before the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee.

Earlier Wednesday, French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told reporters in Paris that France had no intention of providing 'lethal weapons' to Ukraine 'at this stage.'

​​'Diplomatic solution'

On Tuesday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel reiterated her comments from the previous day that Germany will not deliver 'lethal weapons' to Ukraine and will focus instead on a 'diplomatic solution.' Merkel will travel to Washington to meet Monday with Obama.

The policy discussion took place against the backdrop of continued intense fighting in eastern Ukraine. Shelling near a hospital in the rebel-controlled city of Donetsk on Wednesday killed at least four people.

'It wasn't one shell. One was over there blown up, and the second shell was here. They kind of both fell at once. It was a barrage,' said an unidentified Donetsk resident.

Meanwhile, the European Union's foreign policy chief has called for an immediate truce. Federica Mogherini said in a statement that the 'fighting, provoked by the continued separatist offensive ... is causing great human suffering and undermines all efforts aimed at a political solution.'

'The shelling of civilians, wherever it happens, is a grave violation of international humanitarian law. Artillery should immediately be withdrawn from residential areas,' she continued.

Mogherini called for the establishment of a 'local temporary truce for a minimum of three days, taking immediate effect.'

Fighting has raged in the self-declared separatist regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, especially around the Ukrainian-controlled town of Debaltseve, since the rebels launched a new offensive late last month and peace talks in Belarus between the two sides collapsed Saturday.

The United Nations reported Tuesday 224 civilians were killed and 545 wounded in eastern Ukraine in the three weeks leading up to February 1. It said the civilian death toll has been high in areas controlled by the government and those controlled by the separatists.

United Nations estimates place the death toll in eastern Ukraine at more than 5,358 people, with another 12,235 wounded since mid-April of last year.

Fighting raging in Donetsk and Luhansk

Fighting has raged in the self-declared separatist regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, especially around the Ukrainian-controlled town of Debaltseve, since the rebels launched a new offensive late last month and peace talks in Belarus between the two sides collapsed Saturday.

The United Nations reported Tuesday 224 civilians were killed and 545 wounded in eastern Ukraine in the three weeks leading up to February 1. It said the civilian death toll has been high in areas controlled by the government and those controlled by the separatists.

U.N. estimates place the death toll in eastern Ukraine at more than 5,358 people, with another 12,235 wounded since mid-April last year.

Some information for this report provided by Reuters.



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