The Obama administration has notified Congress of its plans to train and arm the Ukrainian national guard next year, as Washington continues to intensify its response to Moscow's support for rebels in eastern Ukraine.
"The Defense Department and State Department have notified Congress of our intent to use $19 million in global security contingency fund authority to train and equip four companies and one tactical headquarters of the Ukrainian national guard as part of their efforts to build their capacity for internal defence," Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby said.
The training, which requires congressional approval, would occur at a location within Ukraine that hosts multilateral exercises, Kirby said.
Kirby did not link the training to the deepening standoff with Russia over Ukraine, but the announcement comes as the US and other Western nations tighten pressure on Moscow after the July 17 downing of a Malaysian airliner over rebel-held territory in Ukraine
President Barack Obama has also urged Russian leader Vladimir Putin to stop supporting separatists in eastern Ukraine and to seek a diplomatic end to the crisis. Washington and European nations announced new sanctions against Russia earlier this week.
While the US has repeatedly slated Russia's troop build-up along the border with Ukraine and its support for the rebels, the Obama administration has limited military assistance to non-lethal aid such as medical supplies and helmets.