Ukraine's Poroshenko Vows EUR 2.2 B for Arms on Independence Day

Defense | August 24, 2014, Sunday // 13:01|  views

Vehicles carrying GRAD multiple rocket launcher systems drive on Kiev`s Independence Square in downtown Kiev, Ukraine, 24 August 2014. Photo by EPA/BGNES

Ukrainan President Petro Poroshenko promised that over EUR 2.2 B are to be set aside for rearmament as the country is celebrating its Independence Day.

At the military parade marking the anniversary he explained the money would be allocated between 2015 and 2017.

It will be mostly spent on fighter jets, helicopters, ships, and cutters.

Russian news agency RIA quoted him as saying "this would only be a modest beginning" of a rearmament program.

The President also warned that Ukraine had to be permanently prepared to defend its independence "under the conditions of a constant aggression" from the outside.

"The events of the last months have for us turned into a real war, albeit an undeclared one," the BBC quoted him as saying.

Hundreds of military units attended the parade and marched in the streets of Kiev, including members of what authorities describe as an "anti-terrorist operation" fighting pro-Russian rebels in the Donbass region.

Poroshenko said the "anti-terrorist" forces would head directly for the east of Ukraine after their role in the feast was over.

The parade has recently drawn criticism among Ukrainians, with some arguing the unrest-torn country with an ailing economy should not concentrate resources in pompous events while hundreds of its citizens are dying as a result of the conflict in the east.

UN estimates quoted by RIA and the BBC suggest the death toll there has surpassed 2000 since turmoil began in April, with rebels occupying a number of official buildings.

US President Barack Obama congratulated Poroshenko on the occasion and restated Washington's support.

Sunday's parade came a day after a meeting between Poroshenko and German Chancellor Angela Merkel in which the latter pledged financial support for the country.

Ukraine is also heading for early elections after the President announced he would dissolve Parliament and set a date for a snap poll with a decree most likely to be signed next week.

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Tags: Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, Angela Merkel, rearmament, military parade, Independence Day, pro-Russian, Donbass, Eastern Ukraine, Barack Obama, early elections


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