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Pentagon beefs up aid to Ukraine

May. 7, 2014 - 04:01PM   |  
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel (Paul J. Richards/AFP)
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It's not F-16s or Patriot missiles but it beats the beef BBQ and vegetarian taco pasta in the MREs the Pentagon has been providing Ukraine's embattled military.

The Pentagon will ship a new round of aid that includes concertina wire, fuel pumps, radios, binoculars and spare tires, said Army Col. Steve Warren. Not enough to strike fear into the hearts of Russian special forces troops and the 40,000 soldiers they've massed on the border. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel referred Tuesday to the annexation of Crimea and the unrest fomented in at a speech in Chicago as "Russia's blatant aggression in Ukraine."

Still, the equipment to be shipped is more than simply symbolic; it's useful stuff if you're setting up check points on crummy roads that eat up tires. Better than Meals Ready to Eat when facing a hardened foe.

Another small but symbolic effort on Tuesday: joint air assault exercises in nearby Poland.

About 100 paratroopers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade and 73 of their comrades from the Princess Patricia Canadian Light Infantry jumped from C-17 and C-130 aircraft and joined members of the Polish 6th Airborne Brigade.

Again, not enough to scare the Russians back to garrison. But it's certainly a gesture to reassure jittery NATO allies in the region.

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