Trump pledged support for Ukrainian fight against Russia

President Donald Trump pledged to provide both defense and technical support to Ukraine in its years-long conflict with Russia that’s resulted in the deaths of thousands during a meeting with the Ukrainian president in New York City, Petro Poroshenko said in an exclusive interview with FOX Business.

For the past three years, Ukraine has been locked in a slow-burn war with Russia, which in 2014 invaded and annexed Ukraine's Crimean peninsula, sparking fighting between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian government forces that left more than 10,000 people -- many of whom were civilians -- dead. At the time, both the U.S. and the European Union widely denounced the annexation, slapping strict sanctions on Russia in retaliation.

“Today, President Trump said we are ready to support Ukraine, including with military and technical cooperation,” Ukrainian leader Poroshenko told FOX Business’ Liz Claman.

That support, he said, would be strictly limited to defense weapons rather than lethal weapons. It marks the first time in years that a U.S. president will flex American military power in the eastern European nation.

Crimea remains a source of friction between the U.S. and Russia amid a time of sanctions and accusations of election meddling between the two nations. Previously, President Trump has said he expects Russia to return Crimea, though Moscow has refused to bring Crimea to the negotiating table.

In July, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson threatened that sanctions would remain in place until Russia began de-escalating tensions in the region. And on Thursday, President Trump approved an energy trade deal in order to sell U.S. coal and steel to Kiev, which is currently fighting to take back the Black Sea peninsula.

An unbridled Poroshenko lashed out at Russian President Vladimir Putin for instigating the insurrection against Ukraine. The president said he was blindsided by both the annexation of Crimea and the war in Donbass, which followed the latter in 2014.

“He’s completely unpredictable,” he said on “Countdown to the Closing Bell.”

Despite international outcry, Russia has continued to claim the annexation, and the war, as legal. Whether or not U.S. involvement affects the war remains to be seen, but Poroshenko was adamant that the annexed lands would be returned to Ukraine.

“We will get Donbass back,” he said. “We will get Crimea back.”