US to increase support for Ukraine Navy in countering Russia

Washington, Dec 22- The US will provide additional funding to improve Ukraine’s naval capabilities to counter Russia, the US State Department has said.

It said an additional $10 million would be provided to Ukraine to improve its naval capabilities in response to Russia’s seizure of three Ukrainian vessels near the Kerch Strait last month.

The funding, under the category of foreign military financing, was subject to Congressional approval and for purchasing US defence articles and services, Xinhua news agency reported.

US Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations Kurt Volker earlier said in Kiev that Washington had plans to provide Ukraine $250 million of military aid next year.

Ukraine has reportedly received more than $1 billion from the US since 2014.

Lithuania and the UK would also increase their security assistance to Ukraine, according to the State Department’s statement.

Moscow has regularly accused Washington of enhancing military cooperation with Eastern European countries by using Russian aggression as a pretext.

“Russia has the right to implement its military policy in Crimea in a way that benefits national security, as Crimea is a part of Russia,” Russian President Vladimir Putin had said in his annual press conference on Thursday.

Last month, Russian forces seized three Ukrainian naval ships and 24 sailors in the Kerch Strait that separates Crimea and Russia’s mainland, saying the Ukrainian ships breached its border.

Kiev called Moscow’s actions an “act of aggression” and urged it to release the captured ships and sailors.

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