US Arms Deal for Ukraine Angers Russia

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A U.S. State Department spokeswoman said last week that the department had notified Congress on December 13 that it had approved an export license permitting Ukraine to buy some light weapons and small arms from U.S. weapons makers. The U.S. government, itself, will not sell these weapons to Ukraine.

Russia, predictably, reacted with anger and threats of increased violence in Eastern Ukraine where the heaviest fighting has been since Russia first moved into the Crimea in January 2014.

Last Wednesday, in response to a reporter’s question about the “commercial sale of lethal weapons to Ukraine,” a State Department official replied:

The United States Government has neither directly sold nor granted defensive weapons to Ukraine. We also haven’t ruled out the option of doing so, and at this point, we don’t have anything to announce.

At a State Department briefing on Tuesday, spokeswoman Heather Nauert said:

Russia and its proxies are the source of violence in eastern Ukraine, and the Russian Government continues to perpetuate an active conflict and humanitarian crisis through its leadership and supply of military forces on the ground, as well as its direct control over proxy authorities. The conflict in eastern Ukraine is not an organic civil war. The so-called “republics” that Russia created are not legitimate entities.

A Saturday report from Reuters cites unnamed U.S. officials who said the weapons approved for export to Ukraine include Javelin anti-tank missiles. These weapons, the U.S. government has argued before, are not suitable for offensive military uses and cannot be used, for example, to take (or retake) enemy-held ground.