U.S. President Barack Obama lauded his Ukrainian counterpart Thursday, saying that Petro Poroshenko is the right person to lead Ukraine as he met with the Ukrainian leader at the White House.
“I have great confidence that President Poroshenko is balancing a lot of different variables here and a very difficult situation, but he’s the right man for the job,” Obama said during a joint press conference.
Poroshenko insisted that his top priority is developing a lasting peace in his country “and the only way how we can deescalate the situation in the east of my country is the peace process.”
He added that he hopes that a tenuous cease-fire brokered earlier this month between the central government in Kiev and separatist rebels “will transform to a real peace which can help us to save Donetsk and Luhansk from the very difficult situation the people of each appear in now.”
Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine in March, and has since unofficially backed pro-Russian separatists in the east of the country, including in Donetsk and Luhansk, with arms and training, the U.S., EU and Ukraine allege.
“What we’ve also seen is Russian aggression, first in Crimea and most recently in portions of eastern Ukraine, that have not only violated the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country but have also been designed to undermine these critical reform efforts that have been taking place in Ukraine,” Obamasaid.
Poroshenko appealed for lethal aid during an address to both houses of the U.S. Congress earlier Thursday, and urged lawmakers to back special status for Ukraine within NATO.
“Blankets, night vision goggles are also important, but one cannot win the war with blankets,” he said.
The U.S. sent Ukraine roughly $291 million in assistance this year alone, and provided an additional $1 billion loan guarantee.