US support for Ukraine ‘will not waver’: Pompeo | AFP

Visiting Kiev, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says that US support for Ukraine “will not waver” during a press conference with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Mike Pompeo is on his first trip to the country that is at the heart of President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial. The visit, which was scheduled for early January but then delayed because of Middle East tensions, was expected to highlight US support for Ukraine in its conflict with Russia-backed separatists. SOUNDBITE

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky greets former prisoners at Kiev airport | AFP

Ukraine and Russia-backed separatists in the country’s war-torn east exchanged 200 prisoners, swapping detained fighters for civilians and servicemen held captive in some cases for years in two breakaway regions.

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Ukraine rivals begin prisoner exchange in controversial swap | AFP

Ukrainian authorities and Russia-backed separatists in the war-torn east of the country begin a prisoner exchange in a frontline operation that has stirred controversy. IMAGES

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Prisoner exchange between Ukraine rivals begins in the east: Kiev | AFP

Men with bags pass in front of a bus at the Mayorske checkpoint, where a prisoner exchange begins between Ukrainian authorities and Russia-backed separatists. IMAGES

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In Syria’s Aleppo, reconstruction makes slow start | AFP

Once the country’s industrial powerhouse, Aleppo was devastated by Syria’s ongoing eight-year civil war before Russia-backed regime forces expelled the last rebels in December 2016 after they imposed several months of siege on the last insurgent areas. As some of the city is slowly rebuilt, the Russian army this week showed reporters around, as Moscow seeks to highlight its role in reconstruction of the war-torn country. IMAGES FILMED DURING A PRESS TOUR ORGANISED BY THE RUSSIAN ARMY.

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In war-torn Ukraine, women get taste of combat training

In a gym in the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol, not far from the frontline with Russia-backed separatists, 20 women fall to the floor and pull back the rifle bolts of dummy Kalashnikovs. The free courses -dubbed “White angels” – were put together by police officers and former members of a far-right battalion who fought against the separatists in the east of the ex-Soviet country.

Inside the Front Lines Of The Ukrainian Cease-fire That Wasn’t (HBO)

Despite two official ceasefires, the conflict between Russia-backed separatists and the Ukrainian Army in eastern Ukraine continues to drag on toward its third year.

Heavy fighting recently broke out in the separatist-controlled territory known as the Promzone. Steady shelling and gunfire has become a daily occurrence there, despite orders for both sides to respect truce agreements. VICE News went to the front lines with the Ukrainian Army to see what the war looks like firsthand and witness the cease-fire that wasn’t.

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Should the US Send Lethal Aid to Ukraine?

This week, the United States delivered a shipment 10 Humvees to the Ukrainian government — the first installment of a $75 million aid package of non-lethal equipment that is meant to assist the fight against Russia-backed rebels in the country’s east.

But despite the overwhelming adoption of a resolution in the US House of Representatives urging President Barack Obama to provide Ukraine with lethal arms, his administration has yet to send such materiel. Debate on this issue centers on whether outfitting the country with lethal aid will serve only to escalate the conflict and trigger a regional arms race between the government and eastern separatists. A question that has received less attention is whether Ukraine’s army is even capable of effectively using the weapons it wants.

VICE News correspondent Simon Ostrovsky visited rebel-held areas and the capital of Kiev to explore whether it would be wise for the US to arm Ukraine’s poorly trained military with advanced weaponry.

Watch “Ukraine’s Religious War” – http://bit.ly/1ykqco4

Watch “Volunteer Soldiers Fighting in Ukraine: Russian Roulette (Dispatch 102)” – http://bit.ly/1MRlJjd

Read “‘The Surgeon’: We Spoke with the Leader of Putin’s Favorite Biker Club, the Night Wolves” – http://bit.ly/1BQxCzm

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