Ukraine PM asks US for 'real support' to prevent further Russian hostility

Ukraine PM asks US for 'real support' to prevent further Russian hostility

19:31, 20 April 2014 | The Guardian

The prime minister of Ukraine, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, has urged the US to provide greater support against Russian aggression amid signs that a peace deal reached in Geneva last week is already under strain.

Speaking on Sunday in an interview with NBC's Meet the Press, Yatsenyuk called on the west to honour promises to protect the territorial integrity of Ukraine and appeared to suggest he did not think Moscow would relent in its attempts to grow influence in the east of his country.

Asked what he would be pressing the Obama administration for during a visit to Kiev by vice-president Joe Biden this week, Yatsenyuk replied: “We need a strong and solid state. We need financial and economic support. We need to overhaul the Ukrainian military. We need to modernise our security and military forces. We need real support.”

His comments, which were filmed earlier, aired on Sunday as a tentative deal to resolve the crisis was hanging by a thread. As many as five people were killed in a gun battle near the volatile eastern town of Slavyansk.

But the US ambassador to Kiev used a rival Sunday morning talk show to pour cold water on the notion that Washington could help Ukraine resist Russiamilitarily, insisting that a diplomatic solution remained the only option.

“The geography and balance of power is such, there is no military solution to this crisis,” Geoffrey Pyatt told CNN's State of the Union. “The fact is that, militarily, as Crimea showed, Ukraine is outgunned.”

Nato is expected to increase training exercises in Poland and Estonia over the next two weeks, with the deployment of 150 US soldiers.

Asked whether such countries should be worried by events in Ukraine, Yatsenyuk, said: “The world has a reason to be concerned about Putin's intentions … he has a dream to restore the Soviet Union and every day he goes further and further.”

“In his famous Munich speech, [Putin] said the worst disaster of the last century was the collapse of the Soviet Union,” Yatsenyuk added. “I consider the biggest disaster of this century would be the restoring of the Soviet Union under the auspices of President Putin.”

Although the White House hopes its deal with Russia in Geneva will avoid the need for further intervention, there are growing calls among Republicans for a more forthright US response.

“We are going to lose eastern Ukraine if we continue as we are going,” said Senator Bob Corker, Republican of Tennessee, the ranking member of the Senate foreign relations committee, on Sunday. “Our foreign policy is always a day late and a dollar short."

Speaking on Meet the Press after the Yatsenyuk interview, Corker called for further sanctions against Russian energy companies and banks, claiming the US had a moral responsibility to assist Ukraine after encouraging it to stand up to Moscow.

“I don't think Putin really believes we are going to punish them,” said Corker. “We have helped create the problem and to leave them alone is unconscionable.”