The Associated Press reports:
Ukraine will soon have more lethal American-made weapons to help it fight Russian-backed separatists. U.S. officials said Friday that the Trump administration approved a plan to provide lethal weapons to Ukraine, in a long-awaited move that deepens America’s involvement in the military conflict and may further strain relations with Russia.
The new arms include American-made Javelin anti-tank missiles that Ukraine has long sought to boost its defenses against Russian-backed separatists armed with tanks that have rolled through eastern Ukraine during violence that has killed more than 10,000 since 2014. Previously, the U.S. has provided Ukraine with support equipment and training, and has let private companies sell some small arms like rifles.
The State Department said the “US assistance is entirely defensive in nature, and as we have always said, Ukraine is a sovereign country and has a right to defend itself.” Among the weapons being sent are US-made Javelin anti-tank missiles, the official said.
Members of Congress and the US-backed Ukrainian government had long requested anti-tank weapons to boost Kiev in its fight against Russian-backed separatists.
This is another development from the US that Russia is expected to criticize. Some experts told CNN that Russia could use this move as a pretext to take further action in Ukraine, after its invasion and annexation of the Crimea region in 2014.