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Foreign Ministry: Moscow can only welcome proposals to cut US military aid to Ukraine

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov has commented on reports concerning the proposal to earmark $150 mln for military aid to Ukraine in the 2017 fiscal year instead of $350 mln

MOSCOW, March 3. /TASS/. Russia can only welcome the proposal by US congressmen to cut Washington's military aid to Ukraine by more than half, if this prompts Kiev to comply with the Minsk agreements, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov told TASS on Friday.

He thus commented on reports on the proposal by the US House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations to earmark $150 mln in military aid for Ukraine in the 2017 fiscal year instead of $350 mln.

"The budget process in the United States is an internal affair of that country. If decisions and steps, which encourage the implementation of the Minsk agreements by Kiev, are taken, we can only welcome this," Ryabkov said.

"As before, we urge our counterparts in Washington to weigh the consequences of certain actions more than once. For example, if our American and other colleagues heeded our appeals not to take steps that would mean destabilization (in Ukraine - TASS) or lead to the appearance of illusions in Kiev that, instead of implementing the Minsk agreements, it can solve the existing problems by using force, the situation there would have probably been much better now," he said.

"We urge them to think twice before making decisions that could lead to further destabilization," Ryabkov added.

The bill discussed by the US House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations says that the Pentagon can spend $150 mln in aid for Ukraine until September 30 (the end of the current fiscal year). These funds can be spent on training troops, purchasing equipment, defense weapons etc. However, these funds cannot be used to acquire or transfer man-portable air defense systems.

'Tempting weapons' 

Money allocated for weapons aid to Ukraine can tempt Kiev to opt for a military solution to the conflict in Donbass, said Frants Klintsevich, first deputy of the Russian upper house’s defense and security committee.

Commenting on the reports that the US Congress had suggested to halve military aid to Ukraine, allocating $150 mln instead of $350 mln, the Russian senior lawmaker said, "The fact should not inspire tenderness in us since any such ‘aid’ pushes Kiev to a military operation in Donbass."

Under the bill, the money will be channeled to supply Ukrainian military with lethal weapons, he said.

The current Act on the activity and the financing of the US Department of Defense for fiscal year 2017 allows the head of the Pentagon to provide defensive lethal force weapons to the Ukrainian army. Most frequently, anti-tank weapons are mentioned among these armaments. A total of $150 million has been set aside for these purposes until September 30 (the end of current fiscal year).