The United States will provide additional defensive capabilities to Ukraine, Supreme Allied Commander Europe of NATO Allied Command Operations Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti announced during a hearing of the US Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday.

“The president recently decided to provide enhanced defensive capabilities to Ukraine, as part of the US effort to help Ukraine build its long-term defence capacity, to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity, and to deter further aggression”, Scaparrotti said.

The statement comes after NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg stated that the organisation was considering the possibility of providing additional support to Ukraine, as well as expanding its presence in the Black Sea.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko stated in December last year that Kiev was deploying combat units along the border with Russia to enhance Ukraine’s defensive capabilities.

The relations between Russia and Ukraine worsened after the November Kerch Strait incident when Ukraine’s Berdyansk and Nikopol gunboats and the Yany Kapu tugboat illegally crossed the Russian maritime border as they sailed toward the Kerch Strait, the entrance to the Sea of Azov. The Ukrainian vessels and their 24 crew members were arrested by Russia after failing to respond to a demand to stop. 

Following the incident, Kiev authorities declared martial law in several Ukrainian regions located near the Russian border and the coasts of the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov. The measure will be in place for 30 days.

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