Obama authorizes $20mn in ‘non-lethal’ military aid & training for Ukraine

© Roman Baluk
One day after Ukraine announced that US instructors would start training the country’s special forces, President Obama has authorized the provision of up to $20 million to Ukraine via the State Department to fund training and other similar activities.

“The authority... to direct the drawdown of up to $20 million in defense articles and services of the Department of Defense and military education and training to provide assistance for the Government of Ukraine,” the Presidential Memorandum says, specifying that another $1.5 million could be used to offer “nonlethal commodities and services.”

The announcement of additional funds allocated for the training of Ukrainian troops follows a statement by President Petro Poroshenko, who said that American instructors will start training Ukrainian special-operations troops this November.

“We have agreed that the best US instructors will finally start training the Ukrainian special forces, our special-operations troops, starting from November,” Poroshenko said in New York after meeting representatives of the Ukrainian diaspora living in the US.

READ MORE: US military instructors deployed to Ukraine to train local forces

The new US assistance will aid other foreign military instructors, including Americans, who are already training the Ukrainian National Guard.

“This is mutual exchange, mutual assistance. This is interesting not only to Ukrainians, to learn from American partners how to fight. This is interesting to Americans, to learn how to beat Russia,” Poroshenko said, according to Interfax.

Since the Ukrainian crisis began last year, the Obama administration has already provided Kiev authorities with more than $244 million in “non-lethal” military assistance, but despite repeated calls from Kiev, Washington has so far been reluctant to send “lethal” military aid