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Kerry in Ukraine to reaffirm support in face of Russia threat

US Secretary of State John Kerry meets Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on Thursday to reaffirm support for Kiev's fight against pro-Russian insurgents and its bid to anchor its ties to the West.

Kiev: US Secretary of State John Kerry meets Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on Thursday to reaffirm support for Kiev's fight against pro-Russian insurgents and its bid to anchor its ties to the West.

Kerry's visit comes ahead of a NATO summit in Warsaw on Friday that Poroshenko will also attend in the hope of securing new assistance for his former Soviet republic's 26-month war in the separatist industrial east.

Thursday's meeting falls in line with Washington's bid to curb Russian President Vladimir Putin's perceived expansionist ambitions and follows a visit to Georgia -- another Kremlin foe that has also lost parts of its territory to Moscow-backed separatists.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Thursday that Russia`s actions in Ukraine had caused a loss of trust with the West.

"If through words and deeds the validity of law and the inviolability of frontiers are questioned, then of course trust is lost," she told the German parliament.

The deputy head of Poroshenko`s administration, Kostyantyn Yeliseyev, said he expected Thursday`s meetings to discuss "the issue of global security, regional security, and of course the issue of Ukraine`s cooperation with NATO".

He said Kiev hoped to receive further assistance from the US and other allies in upgrading its outdated and underfunded armed forces and also discuss the tortuous peace process with the pro-Russian rebels.

Ukraine changed the course of post-Soviet history by ousting its Kremlin-backed leader in a pro-EU revolution in 2014 that was followed by Russia`s annexation of Crimea and the outbreak of one of Europe's bloodiest conflicts since the 1990s Balkans wars.

The revolt in the east has killed nearly 9,500 people and left many of Ukraine`s most important coal mines and steel mills under rebel control.

The war has now ground to a stalemate that sees sporadic spikes in fighting around hotspots surrounding the de facto rebel capital of Donetsk.

But Washington has turned a deaf ear to Ukrainian pleas to supply them with offensive equipment that could help Kiev's forces stamp out the insurgents and win back control of its porous eastern border with Russia.

Washington fears such a step would only further infuriate Putin and complicate US efforts to work with Russia on pivotal issues such as the Syria war.

Poroshenko and the West accuse Russia of covertly using rebel-held parts of the border to supply insurgents with weapons and soldiers -- a charge Moscow persistently denies.Ukraine last weekend did receive 14 long-range US radar systems that should help its army detect and destroy rebel rockets.

Kiev was also bolstered by the EU's decision last week to extend by another six months punishing sanctions against Russia's energy and other key sectors for its role in Ukraine.

But efforts led by Germany and France to end fighting with a peace agreement brokered in February 2015 have so far produced few results.

Kiev insists that no compromise with the separatists is possible without them first handing back the areas under their control.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin said on Wednesday he had no intention of recognising the legitimacy of the self-proclaimed leaders of the separatist Lugansk and Donetsk regions.

Kerry is also due to meet Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman to check on Ukraine`s progress on stamping out the corruption that brought down the previous government in April.

Ukraine is meant to clean up graft and improve governance in order to fulfil its ambition of applying for EU membership by 2020.

But the chances of the eastern European state joining NATO remain slim for the foreseeable future because much of its southeastern territory remains under rebel control.