US increasing non-lethal military aid to Ukraine

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US increasing non-lethal military aid to Ukraine
A woman walks past a partialy damaged building in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk on December 15, 2014. The United Nations released a damning report accusing Ukranian forces and Russian-backed rebels of torturing and indiscriminately shelling civilians in the bloody conflict in the separatist east. AFP PHOTO / VASILY MAXIMOV (Photo credit should read VASILY MAXIMOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Women walk past a partialy damaged building in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk on December 15, 2014. The United Nations released a damning report accusing Ukranian forces and Russian-backed rebels of torturing and indiscriminately shelling civilians in the bloody conflict in the separatist east. AFP PHOTO / VASILY MAXIMOV (Photo credit should read VASILY MAXIMOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Two men carrying their belongings cross a checkpoint in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk on December 14, 2014. Top US diplomat John Kerry is set to meet his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Rome, amid anger in Moscow over the prospect of new US sanctions and possible supply of lethal military aid to Ukraine. AFP PHOTO / VASILY MAXIMOV (Photo credit should read VASILY MAXIMOV/AFP/Getty Images)
A woman walks past a damaged market in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk on December 14, 2014. Top US diplomat John Kerry is set to meet his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Rome, amid anger in Moscow over the prospect of new US sanctions and possible supply of lethal military aid to Ukraine. AFP PHOTO / VASILY MAXIMOV (Photo credit should read VASILY MAXIMOV/AFP/Getty Images)
An armed supporter of the self-proclamed People's Republic of Donetsk mans a checkpoint in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk on December 14, 2014. Top US diplomat John Kerry is set to meet his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Rome, amid anger in Moscow over the prospect of new US sanctions and possible supply of lethal military aid to Ukraine. AFP PHOTO / VASILY MAXIMOV (Photo credit should read VASILY MAXIMOV/AFP/Getty Images)
A car drives past a broken utility pole on a deserted road in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk on December 14, 2014. Top US diplomat John Kerry is set to meet his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Rome, amid anger in Moscow over the prospect of new US sanctions and possible supply of lethal military aid to Ukraine. AFP PHOTO / VASILY MAXIMOV (Photo credit should read VASILY MAXIMOV/AFP/Getty Images)
An armed supporter of the self-proclamed People's Republic of Donetsk checks a car at a checkpoint in the city of Horlivka near Donetsk on December 13, 2014. Russia responded angrily on December 13 to news that US senators had passed a bill calling for fresh sanctions against Moscow and the supply of lethal military aid to Ukraine. AFP PHOTO / VASILY MAXIMOV (Photo credit should read VASILY MAXIMOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Women with a stroller walk past damaged buildings in the city of Kommunar near Donetsk on December 13, 2014. Russia responded angrily on December 13 to news that US senators had passed a bill calling for fresh sanctions against Moscow and the supply of lethal military aid to Ukraine. AFP PHOTO / VASILY MAXIMOV (Photo credit should read VASILY MAXIMOV/AFP/Getty Images)
DONETSK, UKRAINE - DECEMBER 11: Ukrainian army forces patrol in the Tonenkoe town near Donetsk International Airport which was attacked by pro-Russian separatists during the ceasefire, broken by the separatists for 22 times in the last 24 hours, in Donetsk, Ukraine on December 11, 2014. (Photo by Viktor Koshkin/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
DONETSK, UKRAINE - DECEMBER 11: A Ukrainian army member is seen during a patrol in the Tonenkoe town near Donetsk International Airport which was attacked by pro-Russian separatists during the ceasefire, broken by the separatists for 22 times in the last 24 hours, in Donetsk, Ukraine on December 11, 2014. (Photo by Viktor Koshkin/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
DONETSK, UKRAINE - DECEMBER 11: Ukrainian army members are seen during a patrol in the Tonenkoe town near Donetsk International Airport which was attacked by pro-Russian separatists during the ceasefire, broken by the separatists for 22 times in the last 24 hours, in Donetsk, Ukraine on December 11, 2014. (Photo by Viktor Koshkin/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
DONETSK, UKRAINE - DECEMBER 11: Ukrainian army forces patrol in the Tonenkoe town near Donetsk International Airport which was attacked by pro-Russian separatists during the ceasefire, broken by the separatists for 22 times in the last 24 hours, in Donetsk, Ukraine on December 11, 2014. (Photo by Viktor Koshkin/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Photo taken on December 9, 2014, displays a flat destroyed by night shelling by pro-Russian separatists in Avdiivka, Donetsk region, controlled by Ukrainian forces. Planned peace talks between Ukraine and pro-Russian rebels were postponed on Tuesday but a ceasefire appeared to be largely holding along the frontline in the ex-Soviet republic's war-shattered east. AFP PHOTO/ ANATOLII STEPANOV (Photo credit should read ANATOLII STEPANOV/AFP/Getty Images)
A seperatist rebel fighter smokes a cigarette at a check-point on December 9, 2014 in the Kuibishevskiy district of the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk, which is controlled by pro-Russian rebels. Planned peace talks between Ukraine and pro-Russian rebels were postponed on December 9, but a ceasefire appeared to be largely holding along the frontline in the ex-Soviet republic's war-shattered east. AFP PHOTO / ERIC FEFERBERG (Photo credit should read ERIC FEFERBERG/AFP/Getty Images)
Police experts search an electrical substation near the Kharkiv military hospital on November 20, 2014 after a blast. No casualties were reported. AFP PHOTO/ SERGEY BOBOK (Photo credit should read SERGEY BOBOK/AFP/Getty Images)
Miners of the Kholodnaya Balka coal mine walk after finishing work, in the eastern Ukrainian city of Makievka, in the Donetsk region, in the self-declared Donetsk People's Republic, on November 20, 2014. Nearly 1,000 people have been killed in conflict-torn Ukraine since a tattered truce was signed in September while the number of people displaced has nearly doubled, the United Nations said Thursday. AFP PHOTO/ ALEXANDER KHUDOTEPLY (Photo credit should read Alexander KHUDOTEPLY/AFP/Getty Images)
ZAPOROZHYE, UKRAINE - NOVEMBER 06: Residents of Zaporozhye welcomes the soldiers, return from clashes with Pro-Russian separatists, with flowers in Zaporozhye, Ukraine on November 06, 2014. (Photo by Maxim Scherbina/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
A picture shows torn metal fence of a school sports ground on November 6, 2014, where two teenagers were killed during a shelling in the Kuybeshevski area in Donetsk. Ukraine's tattered ceasefire came under new strain on November 5, as shelling killed two teenagers playing football in rebel-held Donetsk and President Petro Poroshenko said he was deploying reinforcements to face a threatened separatist offensive. AFP PHOTO / DIMITAR DILKOFF (Photo credit should read DIMITAR DILKOFF/AFP/Getty Images)
A man carries his belongings as passes by his destroyed home following shelling in the Kuybeshevski area in Donetsk on November 6, 2014. Ukraine's tattered ceasefire came under new strain on November 5, as shelling killed two teenagers playing football in rebel-held Donetsk and President Petro Poroshenko said he was deploying reinforcements to face a threatened separatist offensive. AFP PHOTO / DIMITAR DILKOFF (Photo credit should read DIMITAR DILKOFF/AFP/Getty Images)
A woman observes her damaged flat in a residential building following the recent shelling in Donetsk on November 5, 2014. Ceasefire observers representing government forces, rebels, Russia and the European security body OSCE met in rebel-held Donetsk, but there was little immediate detail available about the results of the talks. The ceasefire in Ukraine hung by a thread on November 5 after President Petro Poroshenko accused pro-Russian rebels of endangering the peace process and ordered troop reinforcements to eastern cities. AFP PHOTO/ALEXANDER KHUDOTEPLY (Photo credit should read Alexander KHUDOTEPLY/AFP/Getty Images)
Militants of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic stand guard on November 4, 2014 outside a theater before the inauguration of the newly elected leader, Alexander Zakharchenko, in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk. The elections of leaders in two unrecognized statelets in eastern Ukraine on November 2 were backed by Russia but condemned by the Western-backed Kiev government, the United States and EU powers. AFP PHOTO/ ALEXANDER KHUDOTEPLY (Photo credit should read Alexander KHUDOTEPLY/AFP/Getty Images)
Smoke rises from the area where Donetsk's airport is located following heavy shelling October 2, 2014. The airport, held by Ukrainian troops, is shelled regularly by pro-Russian separatists of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic. AFP PHOTO / JOHN MACDOUGALL (Photo credit should read JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP/Getty Images)
Smoke rises from the area where Donetsk's airport is located following heavy shelling October 2, 2014. The airport, held by Ukrainian troops, is shelled regularly by pro-Russian separatists of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic. AFP PHOTO / JOHN MACDOUGALL (Photo credit should read JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP/Getty Images)
Smoke rises from the area where Donetsk's airport is located following heavy shelling October 2, 2014. The airport, held by Ukrainian troops, is shelled regularly by pro-Russian separatists of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic. AFP PHOTO / JOHN MACDOUGALL (Photo credit should read JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP/Getty Images)
Ukrainian servicemen on a tank man a checkpoint near Mayorovo in Donetsk region on October 1, 2014. Ten civilians died in attacks in Ukraine's rebel-held city of Donetsk on Wednesday, including from a shell that hit a school on the first day of class, regional authorities said, blaming pro-Russian rebels. AFP PHOTO/ANATOLII BOIKO (Photo credit should read ANATOLII BOIKO/AFP/Getty Images)
Ukrainian servicemen patrol on an armoured personnel carrier near Mayorovo in Donetsk region on October 1, 2014. Ten civilians died in attacks in Ukraine's rebel-held city of Donetsk on Wednesday, including from a shell that hit a school on the first day of class, regional authorities said, blaming pro-Russian rebels. AFP PHOTO/ANATOLII BOIKO (Photo credit should read ANATOLII BOIKO/AFP/Getty Images)
Svetana, 66 years old, stands outside a building destroyed by shellings this morning in the Kievsky district near the international airport on September 17, 2014 in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine. Two civilians were killed in fighting in the rebel-held eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk, where fierce battles were raging near the airport on Wednesday, city hall said. AFP PHOTO/PHILIPPE DESMAZES (Photo credit should read PHILIPPE DESMAZES/AFP/Getty Images)
People stand in line to get money in a cash dispenser on September 17, 2014 in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine. Two civilians were killed in fighting in the rebel-held eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk, where fierce battles were raging near the airport on Wednesday, city hall said. AFP PHOTO/PHILIPPE DESMAZES (Photo credit should read PHILIPPE DESMAZES/AFP/Getty Images)
View of Grad multiple rocket shell which struck the balcony of a building this morning in the Kievsky district near the international airport on September 17, 2014 in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine. Two civilians were killed in fighting in the rebel-held eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk, where fierce battles were raging near the airport on Wednesday, city hall said. AFP PHOTO/PHILIPPE DESMAZES (Photo credit should read PHILIPPE DESMAZES/AFP/Getty Images)
Svetana, 66 years old, stands outside a building destroyed by shelling this morning in the Kievsky district near the international airport on September 17, 2014 in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine. Two civilians were killed in fighting in the rebel-held eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk, where fierce battles were raging near the airport on Wednesday, city hall said. AFP PHOTO/PHILIPPE DESMAZES (Photo credit should read PHILIPPE DESMAZES/AFP/Getty Images)
Women talk after their building was hit by shells this morning in the Kievsky district near the international airport on September 17, 2014 in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine. Two civilians were killed in fighting in the rebel-held eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk, where fierce battles were raging near the airport on Wednesday, city hall said. AFP PHOTO/PHILIPPE DESMAZES (Photo credit should read PHILIPPE DESMAZES/AFP/Getty Images)
People look at the destroyed building hit by shells this morning in the Kievsky district near the international airport on September 17, 2014 in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine. Two civilians were killed in fighting in the rebel-held eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk, where fierce battles were raging near the airport on Wednesday, city hall said. AFP PHOTO/PHILIPPE DESMAZES (Photo credit should read PHILIPPE DESMAZES/AFP/Getty Images)
Svetana, 66 years old, stands outside a building destroyed by shelling this morning in the Kievsky district near the international airport on September 17, 2014 in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine. Two civilians were killed in fighting in the rebel-held eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk, where fierce battles were raging near the airport on Wednesday, city hall said. AFP PHOTO/PHILIPPE DESMAZES (Photo credit should read PHILIPPE DESMAZES/AFP/Getty Images)
A firefighter walks in the rubble of a building destroyed by shelling this morning in the Kievsky district near the international airport on September 17, 2014 in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine. Two civilians were killed in fighting in the rebel-held eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk, where fierce battles were raging near the airport on Wednesday, city hall said. AFP PHOTO/PHILIPPE DESMAZES (Photo credit should read PHILIPPE DESMAZES/AFP/Getty Images)
Women cry after their building was hit by shelling this morning in the Kievsky district near the international airport on September 17, 2014 in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine. At least one man was killed in his flat. AFP PHOTO/PHILIPPE DESMAZES (Photo credit should read PHILIPPE DESMAZES/AFP/Getty Images)
Ukrainian servicemen sit atop of an armored personnel carrier as they patrol in Donetsk region on September 16, 2014. The Ukrainian and European parliaments on September 16 simultaneously ratified a landmark pact at the heart of the ex-Soviet country's bloodiest crisis since independence. AFP PHOTO/ANATOLII STEPANOV (Photo credit should read ANATOLII STEPANOV/AFP/Getty Images)
An Ukrainian serviceman sits atop of an armored personnel carrier during patrol in Donetsk region on September 16, 2014. The Ukrainian and European parliaments on September 16 simultaneously ratified a landmark pact at the heart of the ex-Soviet country's bloodiest crisis since independence. AFP PHOTO/ANATOLII STEPANOV (Photo credit should read ANATOLII STEPANOV/AFP/Getty Images)
KIEV, UKRAINE - SEPTEMBER 16: Protesters burn tyres in front of the Ukrainian Parliament during a rally to demand Ukrainian lawmakers to accept lustration laws in Kiev, Ukraine on September 16, 2014. (Photo by Vladimir Shtanko/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
A cartridge belt lies on the ground in a barn close at an Ukranian army position on outskirts of Donetsk, on September 16, 2014. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko's push for peace with pro-Russian insurgents appeared to pass its first test when most agreed to study his limited self-rule offer while defending their demands for full independence. AFP PHOTO/ANATOLII STEPANOV (Photo credit should read ANATOLII STEPANOV/AFP/Getty Images)
A cartridge belt lies on the ground in a barn close at an Ukranian army position on outskirts of Donetsk, on September 16, 2014. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko's push for peace with pro-Russian insurgents appeared to pass its first test when most agreed to study his limited self-rule offer while defending their demands for full independence. AFP PHOTO/ANATOLII STEPANOV (Photo credit should read ANATOLII STEPANOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Riot police stand guard outside the Ukrainian Parliament in Kiev on September 16, 2014. Clashes with police erupted during rallies organized by civic activists in front of Parliament central Kiev to demand Ukrainian lawmakers to adopt a 'lustration' law that stipulates purge of governmental officials accused of corruption or affiliated with former KGB. AFP PHOTO/YURIY KIRNICHNY (Photo credit should read YURIY KIRNICHNY/AFP/Getty Images)
Protesters react as tyres burn outside the Ukrainian Parliament on September 16, 2014. Clashes with police erupted during rallies organized by civic activists in central Kiev to demand Ukrainian lawmakers to adopt a 'lustration' law that stipulates purge of governmental officials accused of corruption or affiliated with former KGB. AFP PHOTO/YURIY KIRNICHNY (Photo credit should read YURIY KIRNICHNY/AFP/Getty Images)
Riot police stand guard outside the Ukrainian Parliament in Kiev on September 16, 2014. Clashes with police erupted during rallies organized by civic activists in front of Parliament central Kiev to demand Ukrainian lawmakers to adopt a 'lustration' law that stipulates purge of governmental officials accused of corruption or affiliated with former KGB. AFP PHOTO/YURIY KIRNICHNY (Photo credit should read YURIY KIRNICHNY/AFP/Getty Images)
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(Reuters) - The United States plans to increase non-lethal military assistance to Ukraine, including deliveries of the first Humvee vehicles, having decided for now not to provide weapons, U.S. officials said.

The increase in non-lethal aid to Ukraine, which is grappling with a Russian-backed separatist movement in its east, is expected to be announced on Thursday during a visit to Kiev by Vice President Joe Biden.

The officials, who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity, described it as an expansion of U.S. support for Ukraine's armed forces, but one that was unlikely to significantly alter the conflict.

The aid falls short of what Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko requested during a visit to Washington in September when he appealed for lethal aid - a request echoed by some U.S. lawmakers in response to what NATO allies say is Russia's movement of tanks and troops into eastern Ukraine.

Officials in the Obama administration had said Washington believed Ukraine had enough lethal aid and the types of weaponry requested for Ukraine would be of only marginal value. They had also emphasized the need for a diplomatic outcome.

The United States and its European allies have imposed several rounds of economic sanctions on Russia for its seizure of Crimea and incursion into eastern Ukraine.

The new non-lethal aid Biden will present in Kiev includes Humvees from excess supplies in the Pentagon's inventory, as well as the delivery of previously promised radars that can detect the location of enemy mortars, officials said. They did not specify a dollar value for the assistance.

Previous non-lethal aid to Ukraine includes $53 million announced in September for military equipment such as counter-mortar detection units, body armor, binoculars, small boats and other gear for Ukraine's security forces and border guards in the east.

LONG DEBATE

President Barack Obama's administration has long debated providing weapons to the Kiev government, but has so far concluded that it might only prompt Russia to escalate its aid to the separatist rebels.

Lethal assistance "remains on the table. It's something that we're looking at," Obama's deputy national security adviser and nominee for deputy secretary of state, Tony Blinken, said at his Senate confirmation hearing on Wednesday.

In response to Blinken's comment, Russia warned the United States on Thursday against supplying arms to Ukrainian forces.

Hours before Biden was due to arrive in Kiev, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich cautioned against "a major change in policy of the (U.S.) administration in regard to the conflict" in Ukraine.

U.S. Senator John McCain, an Arizona Republican, said he had not been briefed on the new non-lethal aid but called it "a continuation of the ridiculous."

"They are fighting against people with lethal weapons. They need lethal weapons to fight back. It is disgraceful and shameful that we won't give them lethal weapons," McCain told Reuters.

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