KIEV, Ukraine – Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko says he is confident that the United States will send weapons to his country to help it fight pro-Russian rebels, a step the Americans reportedly are considering.
Government forces have been fighting Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine for 10 months in a conflict that has left 5,300 people dead.
On a visit to a government-controlled city in eastern Ukraine on Tuesday, Poroshenko said that his government badly needs the lethal aid to help repel the separatist attacks.
U.S. President Barack Obama has opposed sending lethal assistance to Ukraine’s government, but a senior administration official told The Associated Press earlier this week the surge in fighting has spurred the White House to review the policy.
Poroshenko will have an opportunity on Thursday to make his case to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who is scheduled to visit Kyiv.
“I don’t have a slightest doubt that the decision to supply Ukraine with weapons will be made by the United States as well as by other partners of ours,” he said on a visit to Kharkiv, “because we need to have the capabilities to defend ourselves.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday said that she was opposed to the idea.
In Kyiv, military spokesman Vladislav Seleznev said two Ukrainian troops have been killed and 18 injured in the past 24 hours. The most intense fighting is now focused about the railway hub of Debaltseve where, according to Seleznev, the rebels mounted an offensive against Ukrainian troops.
In the rebel-stronghold of Donetsk, separatist official Eduard Basurin told reporters that four civilians have been killed in the past days.
The city hall in Donetsk also reported on Wednesday that a hospital in the west of Donetsk was shelled at midday but the number of casualties was unknown.