Britain, Spain oppose military aid for Ukraine

19th February 2015, Comments 0 comments

Britain and Spain said Thursday the solution to the Ukrainian conflict had to come through dialogue and should not involve military aid to Ukrainian forces.

"We do not believe that at the moment it would be helpful to provide lethal support to the Ukrainian armed forces," British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond told a news conference with Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia Margallo in Madrid.

"But we reserve the right to keep that position under review. We are clear that we cannot afford to allow the Ukrainian armed forces to collapse, though I think they are long way from that position at the moment," he added.

"So the UK will not change its position right now on suppling lethal aid as a consequence of what is going on the ground at the moment."

Ukraine's Western-backed government has been appealing for its allies to send weapons to help it fight a 10-month uprising by pro-Russian rebels in the east.

Hammond said the question of supplying aid to the Ukrainian armed forces was "one for individual national governments," saying: "It's not an EU issue or a NATO issue".

Margallo added however that he "would like the European Union to have a common position" on the question of arms.

Under the terms of a tattered truce that came into force at the weekend, the rival sides were supposed to pull back their weapons from the front line to create a wide buffer zone.

But sporadic fighting was reported on Thursday a day after Ukrainian forces retreated from a flashpoint town that was stormed by the insurgents.

Western powers accuse Russia of supplying pro-Moscow separatists with manpower and weapons, but Moscow denies this.

Margallo called for a "frank and open dialogue" and urged Russia to respect international law and "Ukraine's territorial integrity".

Hammond added however: "(Russian President Vladimir) Putin agreeing to do something will not be the trigger for removing or relaxing sanctions".

"Putin actually doing something on the ground, withdrawing troops and delivering on the ground... It's actual delivery that will trigger a relaxation of sanctions, in my view."

© 2015 AFP

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