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Hagel Given Assurances Ukraine Military Will Not Deploy Against Protesters

By Nick Simeone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 21, 2014 – Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has been assured by his Ukrainian counterpart that the country's military will not be used against anti-government protesters.

Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby says Hagel was given that assurance during a phone call with Ukrainian Minister of Defense Pavlo Lebedev this afternoon.

"Minister Lebedev assured the secretary that the Ukrainian armed forces remain the protectors of the Ukrainian people, and that their deployment inside the country has been focused on protecting defense facilities and equipment, " Kirby said in a statement issued after the call.   Lebedev, Kirby said, assured Hagel that the government in Kiev "would not use arms against the Ukrainian people." 

The conversation took place just hours after a reported settlement was reached between the Ukrainian government and protesters who for months have been occupying the center of Kiev demanding greater economic and political integration with Western Europe and that President Viktor Yanukovych step down.

Thursday, Kirby told reporters Hagel was deeply troubled by the escalating violence which has killed scores of people, and he urged Ukraine's military not to intervene in the unrest.

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