ODESSA, Ukraine, July 21 (UPI) -- Mikheil Saakashvili, the Governor of Ukraine's Odessa Oblast, signed a memorandum with the United States Tuesday assuring American support in the region.
The memorandum was co-signed by Assistant Secretary of State for Drugs and Law Enforcement William R. Brownfield and marks the first agreement between the regional Ukrainian government and the United States.
Tuesday's ceremony officially recognized the official deployment of the new patrol police in Odessa that were trained by the California Highway State Patrol, Kyiv Post reported. There were Californian police officers present during the signing ceremony.
The Embassy of the United States in Kyiv announced on July 6 the funding of the new "anti corruption action team," which was certified on Tuesday. "We are funding an anti-corruption action team of Ukrainian and international experts in the governor's office, and are launching a new anti-corruption grants program to broaden and deepen our cooperation with civil society partners," read the statement. It also underscored that the U.S. is providing "financial and technical expertise to the ministry of internal affairs, as it works to select, train and equip a new patrol police force for Odessa."
The United States has committed $15 million to support new police patrol units in Kyiv, Lviv and Kharkiv, Kyiv Post also reported.
The American envoy Brownfield spoke last week at a press briefing at the U.S. embassy in Budapest, in which he underscored that he was "proud of the newly trained police force."
Saakashvili, the one-time president of Georgia whose country fought a war with Russia in the summer months of 2008 also said that Russian President Vladimir Putin is a major threat to peace and security, in an interview with The Independent.
"Putin does not respect national borders and he will push everwhere," he told the newspaper. "I predicted that Ukraine would be next in 2008, and that the Baltics would be next... Putin is obsessed with the idea of testing NATO."
Saakashvili vigorously supported Ukraine's Euromaidan movement and the 2014 Ukrainian revolution. In late May, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko appointed him Governor of Odessa Oblast. He was also granted Ukrainian citizenship.