Moscow condemns US aid to Ukraine

2014-12-16 Vatican Radio

(Vatican Radio) Russia has condemned legislation passed by the United States Congress authorizing $350 million in military aid to Ukraine's government, which has been fighting pro-Russian separatists in the east. The law also includes new sanctions against key state-controlled Russian companies. New tensions between Moscow and Washington came while a massive convoy arrived in eastern Ukraine from Russia, which the Kremlin described as humanitarian aid.

Listen to Stefan Bos' report: 

Russian Deputy Foreign Secretary Sergei Ryabkov on Saturday blamed "anti-Russian moods" in Washington for new legislation authorizing lethal military aid to Kyiv and deeper sanctions against Russia. If President Barack Obama signs the Ukraine Freedom Support Act, the U.S. will provide Ukraine with anti-tank and armor-piercing weapons, counter-artillery radars, tactical troop-operated surveillance drones, communications equipment and ammunition.

The bill, which was passed unanimously by both houses of Congress, also allows new sanctions on Russia's state arms exporter Rosobornexport and state-controlled natural gas producer Gazprom.

Russia warned there would be repercussions if Washington carried out the legislation.

Adding fuel to the fire was the arrival of some 130 Russian trucks in rebel-held areas of Luhansk and Donetsk with what Moscow claims is humanitarian aid.

RESIDENTS PLEASED

“A big thank you to our brother in Russia for helping us. Because Ukraine has discarded us completely,” said a man while helping unload the lorries.

The trucks arrived from Russia amid an easing of tensions following another ceasefire agreement. But some soldiers were killed in recent days and civilians are suffering too.

“The terrorists don’t have the patience to keep the ceasefire," complained anti-terrorist operation spokesman Oleksiy Dmytrashkivskiy. "In the last 24 hours they attacked our positions, six times with sniper rifles, and we were told two civilians were injured,” he adds.

Additionally, Kiev and rights activists say at least dozens of local residents have disappeared and are believed to be in the custody of pro-Russian separatists around the Donetsk and Luhansk areas.

DIFFERENT CHARGES

Some are reportedly detained for violating a curfew, failure to produce acceptable documents, or simply arousing the suspicion of the many masked men patrolling the streets with automatic weapons.

Amid the tensions, Ukraine's Defence Minister Stepan Poltorak has warned his government will have to conscript 40,000 soldiers and double its military budget next year to as much as 3.2 billion dollars.

Kiev says the resources are needed to meet demands in an ongoing conflict that has killed more than 4,000 people.

Yet the Finance Minister Natalie Jaresko has denied reports Ukraine is close to default, contradicting Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk, who is appealing for more international aid.

(from Vatican Radio)