The US might be getting in politically troubled waters with Russia over the upcoming sale of $47 million worth of anti-tank missiles, launchers and related equipment to Ukraine's military, which President Trump is supposed to sign off on shortly.
Ukraine has been fighting with Russian-backed separatists in the eastern part of the country since April 2014 and the Ukrainian government is eager to get their hands on the Javelin anti-tank missiles, which would be included in the package.
A state department press release read: "The United States has decided to provide Ukraine enhanced defensive capabilities as part of our effort to help Ukraine build its long-term defense capacity, to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity, and to deter further aggression."
"U.S. assistance is entirely defensive in nature, and as we have always said, Ukraine is a sovereign country and has a right to defend itself. The United States remains committed to the Minsk agreements as the way forward in eastern Ukraine."
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">US to send anti-tank missiles to Ukraine The total defense package of $47 million includes the sale of 210 anti-tank missiles and 35 launchers. Additional supplies will need to be purchased, according to a State Department official. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Javelin?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Javelin</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Ukraine?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Ukraine</a><a href="https://t.co/mXCl7Jvt23">https://t.co/mXCl7Jvt23</a> <a href="https://t.co/d2xgSX35x9">pic.twitter.com/d2xgSX35x9</a></p>— Yet Another MD (@WYSLPG_YA_MD) <a href="https://twitter.com/WYSLPG_YA_MD/status/944478261328973824?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">December 23, 2017</a></blockquote>
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The announcement comes after the US had approved an export license for Ukraine to buy certain types of light and small arms from American manufacturers, covering weapons in categories such as semi-automatic and automatic firearms up to .50 caliber weapons, combat shotguns, silencers, military scopes, flash suppressors, and parts.
Russia has immediately sent a stark warning, saying that such a sale will “motivate the hotheads’ on the Ukrainian side and “unleash the conflict again”. Earlier in the month, when talks of a possible sale had first arisen, Russian President Vladimir Putin had already warned against any US move to supply weapons to Ukraine, as he felt it would simply fuel the conflict and could, in turn, lead the (Russian-backed) separatists to expand their own military operations in response.
However, Defense Secretary Mr James Mattis stated that selling defensive weapons to Ukraine was not a problem as far as he was concerned: “Defensive weapons are not provocative unless you're an aggressor, and clearly, Ukraine is not an aggressor, since it's their own territory where the fighting is happening.”