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Britain 'reserves right' to arm Ukraine

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Ukrainian army troops on the outskirts of the city of Izium.

Britain has joined the United States in saying it reserves the right to supply the Kiev government with lethal aid amid a new round of peace talks over the crisis in eastern Ukraine.

Britain will not allow the Ukrainian army to collapse in its fight against pro-Russians in eastern Ukraine, British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond stated during a parliamentary session on Tuesday.

“It’s a national decision for each country in the NATO alliance to decide whether to supply lethal aid to Ukraine,” he claimed, adding that the United Kingdom reserves “the right to keep this position under review.”

US reserves the right

The United States also said it is considering giving weapons to the Ukraine military in its fight against pro-Russians.

According to earlier reports, Washington proposed to send $3 billion in weapons, including anti-armor missiles and reconnaissance drones, to Kiev.

However, US President Barrack Obama said on Monday that he would hold off on the decision to send arms to Ukraine until France and Germany have had a chance to broker a ceasefire with Russia over the crisis in eastern Ukraine.

The leaders of Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany will meet during peace talks in the Belarusian capital city of Minsk on Wednesday.

Russia warns against arming Ukraine

The announcements come as Russia has warned against sending weapons to Ukraine, saying the move would cause “colossal damage” to ties between Moscow and Washington.

“Russia is a country that is truly interested in resolving this crisis. All the other plans to strengthen the sanctions regime, isolation, the delivery of weapons etc. – they are all steps which, unfortunately, on the contrary are aimed at destabilizing the situation in Ukraine,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Tuesday.

Fighting has picked up around eastern Ukraine in recent weeks. Clashes are currently focused in the city of Debaltseve, a strategic city that links Donetsk and Luhansk, which are the two mainly Russian-speaking regions of eastern Ukraine.

International efforts to establish a truce have failed so far with Western governments accusing Russia of supporting the armed militancy against the Ukrainian government. Moscow denies the charges, saying Kiev must stop suppression of ethnic Russian population in the area.

Russia has already been hit by several rounds of Western sanctions over the crisis in Ukraine, but the restrictive measures have backfired on the economy of the European countries.


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