WASHINGTON, October 8 (RIA Novosti) - The United States is designing a work program that may eventually lead to providing lethal assistance to the Ukrainian government, the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs (ISA), Derek Chollet said on Wednesday.
"[Ukrainian] President [Petro] Poroshenko has been asking us for lethal assistance", Chollet said in his speech at the International Institute for Strategic Studies. "That is not something that we have decided to do at the moment, but what we are interested in doing right now is building a work program that may eventually get to that point," he added.
According to Chollet, the United States has already provided 116 million dollars in non-lethal aid for "Ukrainians and their military and border security forces", supplying basic soldier equipment from body armor to night vision goggles.
The United States currently faces "deeply rooted challenges" in Ukraine like corruption within the Ukrainian establishment, but it is hoping that "next year, the European Reassurance Initiative and 1 billion dollars that we will hopefully get from Congress will be budgeted to assist Ukraine", Chollet noted.
In mid-April, Kiev authorities launched a special military operation to suppress independence supporters in the southeast of Ukraine, who refused to recognize the new government which came to power as a result of the February coup.
On September 5, the Ukrainian government forces and independence supporters agreed on a ceasefire and an "all-for-all" prisoner exchange at a meeting of the Contact Group on Ukraine held in the Belarusian capital, Minsk.
Late in September, during his visit to Washington, Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko requested lethal military assistance, which the White House declined.
The US aid provided to Ukraine this year included counter-mortar radar detection equipment, engineering equipment, patrol vehicles, personnel transport, maritime craft, and surveillance equipment, among other supplies, with no lethal weaponry, according to the White House.