U.S. President Donald Trump has approved the private sector sale of more weapons to Ukraine to help the country combat Russian-backed troops in the east.
“The United States calls on Russia to put an end to the attacks in eastern Ukraine, withdraw its forces and heavy weapons from the sovereign territory of Ukraine, and agree to a robust UN [United Nations] peacekeeping mission,” declared State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert this week.
ABC News reports:
But while the latest sale is a new gift to the Ukrainian government, Trump still has not announced any decision on whether to provide a more powerful lethal-aid package that includes anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles – a proposal recommended by his National Security Council and awaiting his approval for months now.
U.S. State Department officials have explained that the recently approved transactions involve American manufacturers selling small arms and light weapons to the Ukrainian government, adding that it is not a direct business dealing with the U.S. government.
“The U.S. government is not selling the Ukrainian government these weapons. Under the previous two administrations, the U.S. government has approved export licenses to Ukraine, so this is nothing new,” Nauert told ABC News.
Echoing other Trump officials, the State Department spokeswoman said that while the U.S. has yet to provide more lethal defensive military equipment to Ukraine, it has not ruled the option out.
“Such a sale would mark an escalation in American support for Ukraine as it battles Russian-backed and -led fighters in the country’s east. The conflict there has been frozen in terms of the battle lines for nearly four years, but the war is anything but cold,” reports ABC News, referring to lethal equipment.
Among the items the Ukrainian government is expected to receive as part of the $41.5 million-worth sale are sniper rifles, ammunition, and other associated parts and materials, ABC News learned from two unnamed U.S. congressional sources.
The news outlet acknowledged that similar sales had been permitted under previous administrations.
“Earlier this year, the Trump administration approved the sale of shoulder-fired rocket launchers by AirTronic, a U.S. manufacturer in Texas, to Ukraine, according to the company’s COO [chief operating officer],” ABC News notes.
More than 16,000 Ukraine-Russian-backed fighters ceasefire violations have transpired in the last few days, the news agency learned from monitoring groups from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
The fighting has killed an excess of 10,000 people since fighting began in 2014, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights reported this month.