The United States will deliver Humvees and drones to Ukraine and hit rebel leaders and their alleged Russian supporters with further sanctions, after accusing Moscow of repeatedly violating a ceasefire agreement.
Around $75m worth of drones, Humvees and other “non-lethal defensive” equipment will be sent to Kiev, a senior administration official said on Wednesday.
New sanctions will target officials in the self-proclaimed rebel Donetsk People’s Republic in Ukraine as well as the Russian National Commercial Bank and a nationalist Russian group.
The latest measures were unveiled after weeks of White House complaints that Moscow is sending troops and weapons across the border to Ukraine in support of pro-Russian rebels.
“While we continue to believe that there is no military resolution to this crisis, Ukraine has the right to defend itself,” the US official said.
The proposed package stops short of providing Ukraine with lethal military assistance, which many say would help Kiev repel rebel advances.
There has been an escalation of tensions between Russia and the West in recent weeks, despite a February 12 ceasefire to halt hostilities.
Since then fighting has continued, Moscow has withdrawn from the landmark Treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe and the US has begun to deploy 3,000 troops on a three-month exercise to the Baltic region.
Meanwhile, the IMF board on Wednesday approved an overall loan of $17.5bn, with the bulk of the money heading out the door fast: $5bn likely by the end of this week and another $5bn in the coming months, IMF officials said.
That will be combined with $7.5bn in loans from other international organisations and an expected $15.4bn in debt relief that Ukrainian officials hope to negotiate with their bondholders.
The programme “is very strongly front-loaded during the first year,” IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said in Berlin. “Ukraine has satisfied all the prior actions that were expected and required of it in order to start running the programme…We are off to a good start.”