US Defense Secretary James Mattis Meets with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko; Pledges Additional $175 Million in Military Aid

August 24, 2017
US Secretary of Defense James Mattis meets with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on August 24, 2017. Photo by CNN

Ukraine Day 1284: LIVE UPDATES BELOW. Three Ukrainian soldiers were wounded in the last day.

Yesterday’s coverage of the Ukraine conflict can be found here.

An Invasion By Any Other Name: The Kremlin’s Dirty War in Ukraine


US Defense Secretary James Mattis Meets with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko; Pledges Additional $175 Million in Military Aid

Ukrainian soldiers marching on Kreshchatyuk St. on Ukrainian Independence Day, August 24, 2017. Photo by Efrem Lukatsky/AP 

US Defense Secretary Mattis met with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and Defense Minister Stepan Poltorak, Ukrainian, US and European media reported.

Mattis attended Ukraine’s Independence Day parade and made a strong statement of support, CNN reported:

“Have no doubt, the United States stands with Ukraine. We support you in the face of threats to sovereignty and territorial integrity, to international law, and to the international order writ large,” he said.

“We do not, and we will not, accept Russia’s seizure of Crimea and despite Russia’s denials, we know they are seeking to redraw international borders by force, undermining the sovereign and free nations of Europe.”

Deutsche Welle (DW) reported that Mattis called Russia “an international menace”.
DW also reported a comment from the US State Department regarding the issue of lethal weapons:
“In terms of the weapons program, there have been no decisions made,” spokesperson Heather Nauert said in response to questions. “We”re not going to rule it in; we’re not going to rule that out right now.”

It was not clear whether the US would proceed with giving Ukraine defensive military armor in its effort to stop Russian aggression. Mattis said the US had provided nearly $750 million in military aid already. He said that now he had a better idea of Ukraine’s needs, and would return to recommend “concrete things” to US leadership “regarding the provision to Ukraine of lethal weapons,” reported that Mattis also said the US pledged an additional $175 million in aid, which was to include unspecified “special defensive equipment”.

In his speech at the Independent Day parade, Poroshenko made a sharp denunciation of Russia, comparing it to Nazi Germany, DW reported:
“With particular pain we remember the heroes of Ilovaisk,” Poroshenko said, referencing a battle three years ago in Donetsk. “They were insidiously attacked by regular units of the Russian army that invaded our land without declaring war – as Hitler once did.”
Ukraine lost hundreds of soldiers at the Battle of Ilovaisk in August 2014, when Russia invaded with tanks and troops.
This week the parties concluded a “school ceasefire” agreement to begin August 25 to enable parents and children to prepare for the start of the school year on September 1. The last ceasefire, concluded to enable the harvest, was a shambles and a large number of both soldiers and civilians were killed and wounded.
Mattis said that the US would continue to press Russia to abide by the Minsk agreement and sanctions would remain “until Moscow reverses the actions that triggered them”. This was a reference to Russia’s annexation and occupation of Crimea in 2014.
For his part, Poroshenko said at least 3,000 Russian troops remain in the Donbass and make the situation “extremely dangerous”. He called for immediate withdrawal, an end to the flow of new weapons, release of POWs and civilians taken hostags and full access for OSCE monitors — all areas where Russia has ignored commitments.
Once again Poroshenko invoked the idea of “UN peace-keepers”. While Ukraine is currently an elected member of the UN Security Council, with the veto on the Council from permanent member Russia, a peace-keeping mission would never be approved.
Georgiy Tuk, deputy minister for the temporarily occupied territories reported that about 80 homes were destroyed from shelling by Russia-backed forces this week, according to, citing Radio Svoboda.
He said the militants “barbaric actions” were creating fire hazards for the whole region; the towns to suffer the most are Peski, Opytnoye and Vodyanoye.
Ukrainian military intelligence says the Russia-backed fighters are hiding their armor in civilian buildings to keep them out of sight from OSCE monitors, reported.
He said armor banned under the Minsk agreement was hidden at a machine-building factory in Debaltsevo; in Dokuchayevsk, a former auto transport company; and in Boykovsky, at an agricultural facility.
In its evening dispatch, the ATO said Russia-backed forces attacked 11 times, and three Ukrainian soldiers were wounded in battle.
Most of the attacks were on the Lugansk line, where militants used 82-mm mortar launchers on the outskirts of Novoaleksandrovka and Katerinovka. Grenade-launchers were used on the approaches of Krymskoye along with heavy machine guns, small arms and snipers’ fire.

On the Donetsk line, the Avdeyevka industrial zone was attacked, then the Butovka Mine was pounded with grenade-launchers and heavy machine guns for several hours. Ukrainian forces returned fire.

— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick 

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