(AA) – Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has said he will ask Germany to provide military support to government forces fighting pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.
Poroshenko said in an interview with German daily Bild published on Monday that he would ask for the supplies during talks with German leaders in Berlin later in the day.
He was quoted as saying: “The reality is that, the ceasefire agreement is not functioning. For us Minsk is a hope, but it is not real.
“We need more help in order to be able to defend ourselves and to better protect our soldiers.”
“We need radar systems, drones, communication and night-vision devices. It’s not about assault weapons,” he added.
– U.S. troop deployment
He accused Russia-backed separatists of violating the ceasefire agreed in Minsk, Belarus, on Feb. 12, and alleged that, since the deal was signed, 68 Ukrainian soldiers had been killed and 380 Ukrainians injured in the eastern region.
He also claimed Russia has been backing separatists in the region with regular troops – a claim disputed by Moscow.
His accusations came after the Pentagon announced last week the U.S. had sent heavy equipment to Latvia, to be followed by U.S. soldiers who will be deployed in the Baltics this week.
The U.S. shipment included 750 military tanks, helicopters and other heavy equipment, along with nearly 3,000 soldiers, which are expected to travel to the region this week as part of a three-month training mission with NATO partners in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in a joint press conference with his Spanish counterpart Jose Manuel Garcia Margallo, last Tuesday: “The expanding military presence near the Russian border is not contributing to the restoration of trust with NATO.”
– Ukraine ‘destabilized’
His comments after British Prime Minister David Cameron announced on Feb. 24 that scores of UK military trainers would be deployed to assist the Ukrainian government.
Cameron told a committee of lawmakers in the UK’s House of Commons that a total of 75 military trainers would assist Kiev in areas including infantry training and intelligence analysis, and he called on the EU to extend its sanctions against both Russia and pro-Russian separatists.
Ukraine and European leaders have accused Russia of supporting the conflict with providing arms and ammunition to the separatists, while Russia says the U.S. and EU have deliberately destabilized Ukraine to expand the west’s military presence in Eastern Europe through NATO.
More than 6,000 victims have lost their lives in the conflict between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian separatists since last April, according to the UN.