WASHINGTON, July 28, 2014 —
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel spoke by phone today with Ukrainian Defense Minister Valeriy Heletey, Pentagon Press Secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby said.
In a statement summarizing the call, Kirby said Hagel congratulated Heletey on his recent appointment and asked for his assessment of developments in Ukraine.
“Minister Heletey conveyed that despite steady progress by the Ukrainian military, the situation in eastern Ukraine continues to worsen,” Kirby said. The minister attributed the increasing levels of violence, including the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, to direct Russian support for separatists, he added.
Heletey expressed his nation's interest in additional security assistance from the United States, the press secretary said.
“Secretary Hagel assured him that the U.S. government will continue to review all such requests within a broad interagency process,” he added, beginning with discussions through the U.S. Embassy in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv.
The two defense leaders exchanged mutual thanks for the level of defense cooperation between the United States and Ukraine, and pledged to continue developing the bilateral relationship, Kirby said.