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U.S. Sending Ukraine Aid From Sleeping Mats to Helmets

April 17 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. will send Ukraine’s military nonlethal aid including “medical supplies, helmets, sleeping mats and water-purification units,” Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said.

While the Pentagon isn’t sending weapons to Ukrainian forces struggling to fend off pro-Russian militias, Hagel said today that President Barack Obama has approved providing items such as “shelters, small power generators, and hand fuel pumps for Ukraine’s state border guard service.”

The U.S. defense secretary spoke before Russian, Ukrainian, U.S. and European Union leaders announced an agreement in Geneva on “initial concrete steps to de-escalate tensions and restore security for all citizens” amid continuing unrest after Russia’s invasion and annexation of Crimea.

Hagel, who commented after meeting at the Pentagon with Poland’s Defense Minister Tomasz Siemoniak, said the 28-member North Atlantic Treaty Organization has yet to decide how to bolster the alliance’s military capabilities in eastern Europe.

“There may be some new opportunities for some rotational-basis forces” to be moved through Europe, “but no decisions have been made,” Hagel said.

The U.S. and NATO are “also assessing what additional contributions we can offer to reinforce our allies in central and eastern Europe,” Hagel said. “These measures are not meant to provoke or threaten Russia, but instead to demonstrate NATO’s continued dedication to collective defense.”

McConell’s Stance

The U.S. already has provided ready-to-eat meals to the Ukrainian military. Some American lawmakers have criticized the Obama administration for not providing weapons and ammunition.

Senator Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said today that “I would be sending arms to the Ukrainian army.”

“I would provide serious assistance to the Ukrainians so that they could defend themselves,” McConnell of Kentucky said in an interview with a radio station in his state, according to excerpts released by his staff.

Members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee are scheduled to visit Ukraine next week to meet with political leaders in Kiev, the capital.

To contact the reporter on this story: Gopal Ratnam in Washington at gratnam1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: John Walcott at jwalcott9@bloomberg.net Larry Liebert, Steve Geimann

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