Further non-lethal help for Ukraine
The UK is to supply a further package of non-lethal military equipment worth £850,000 as a gift to the government of Ukraine, it has been announced.
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said the package will include first aid kits, night vision goggles, helmets, GPS (global positioning system) units and "ruggedised" laptops.
The announcement comes a day after Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond flew to the eastern European country's capital Kiev for talks with Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko, Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk and foreign minister Pavlo Klimkin.
In a written statement to the House of Commons, Mr Fallon said that the UK's gift came in response to a request from Kiev for help with basic equipment, supplies of which have been depleted by months of instability caused by Russian-backed separatists in the east of the country.
Mr Fallon said: "This Government is committed to supporting Ukraine's sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity. As a result of their prolonged engagement in this conflict, the Ukrainians face a serious shortage of basic equipment, and have requested help.
"Our proposed gift of non-lethal equipment is designed to prevent further Ukrainian fatalities and casualties and to help improve situational awareness on the ground."
And he added: " Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea and its destabilising activities in eastern Ukraine, including direct military support to the separatists, have demonstrated its disregard for international law.
"The latest ceasefire agreement, reached in Minsk on February 12 and which came into force on February 15, has seen a reduction in violence in the conflict zone. We very much hope it will help end the conflict.
"However, fighting has not ceased in some areas and there continues to be fatalities and casualties amongst the Ukrainian armed forces."