Sitting down with Ukraine’s new leader, President Barack Obama said Ukraine can become a vibrant, thriving democracy if the world community stands behind it. He pledged the United States would provide new support as Ukraine’s fragile government seeks a path out of crisis.
“The Ukrainian people made a wise selection in someone to lead them through this period,” Obama said after meeting with Ukraine’s President-elect Petro Poroshenko.
In tandem with the meeting, the U.S. announced it would send Kiev an additional $5 million in equipment, as Ukraine’s military continues to suffer casualties in its confrontation with pro-Russian insurgents, especially in the country’s east.
More significant than the dollar amount was the nature of the new aid. The White House said for the first time, the batch would include body armor and night vision goggles — tools that could directly help Ukraine’s troops as it battles separatists. Until now, the U.S. has only provided other nonlethal forms of aid like clothes, food and radios.
Obama, in his first private meeting with Poroshenko, praised the billionaire candy maker for reaching out to Ukraine’s restive east. He said Poroshenko’s election signaled Ukrainians had rejected violence and corruption in favor of democracy.
“I have been deeply impressed by his vision, partly because of his experience as a businessman,” Obama said.