The U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution on Monday night asking President Obama to send weapons to help the Ukrainian government defend its sovereignty against rebel groups supported by Russia. However, the statement is not likely to have immediate effect, as Obama has made it clear that he prefers to wait and see how strictly Ukraine's government and its adversaries can adhere to the terms of a cease-fire agreement reached in February, as the Associated Press reported.
Petro Poroshenko, the president of Ukraine, visited Congress in September to ask the U.S. for military support. So far, the U.S. has only sent humanitarian aid to the region and imposed sanctions on Russia. "One cannot win a war with blankets," Poroshenko pleaded during his speech, The Hill reported.
Representatives endorsed the resolution in a 348 to 48 vote, and such a proposal is also likely to enjoy widespread support in the Senate. Last year, Congress unanimously passed a bill that authorized the president to send weapons to Ukraine -- a power he has so far declined to use. In February, a group of senators held a press conference calling for the U.S. to send $1 billion in military aid to Ukraine as soon as possible, and pledge another $1 billion for 2016 and 2017, as CBS News reported.
"The people of Ukraine are not looking for American troops," Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said according to The Hill. "They are just looking for the weapons to defend themselves. They don't have those weapons. We do." Earlier this month, though, the U.S. sent 3,000 soldiers to Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia to begin training exercises in the area.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has denied claims that he has provided support to rebel groups, which first gained a foothold in the region in early 2014 with their takeover of the Crimean Peninsula south of Ukraine’s border with Russia.