WASHINGTON – Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Thursday the Obama administration has approved additional non-lethal supplies to Ukraine's fledgling military as it struggles to fight pro-Russian militants in the east.
Hagel made the announcement during a visit to Washington by Polish Defense Minister Tomasz Siemoniak, which comes amid growing concerns about Russian aggression in the region.
The new equipment for Ukraine includes helmets, sleeping mats and generators. In the past, the Pentagon has sent rations to Ukraine's military.
Tomasz visit comes as Central and Eastern European countries are increasingly nervous about Russia's actions in Ukraine.
Poland and the Baltic countries would like a greater presence of NATO forces in their country to help deter Russian aggression.
The Pentagon and NATO have so far stopped short of deploying additional ground troops in the region, but the alliance on Wednesday said it would beef up air and naval patrols in the region.
The Pentagon said the additional 12 F-16s that were earlier sent to Poland will remain through this year.
Hagel said other options are still being considered. The Pentagon said it has sent planners to NATO headquarters to draw up contingency plans if needed to respond to Russian aggression.
"These measures are not meant to provoke or threaten Russia," Hagel said.