WASHINGTON - The United States will provide Ukraine with “enhanced defensive capabilities,” the State Department said Friday, as Kyiv battles Russian-backed separatists in the eastern part of the country.
“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 department said in a statement.
Earlier Friday, ABC News reported that President Donald Trump was expected to approve the sale of anti-tank missiles to Ukraine, citing State Department sources. Any sale would need congressional approval.
On Monday, the Russian foreign ministry said it was recalling officers serving at the Joint Center for Control and Coordination (JCCC) in Ukraine, accusing the Ukrainian side of obstructing their work and limiting access to the front line.
Ukrainian officials, security monitors and Kyiv’s foreign backers warned Wednesday that Moscow’s decision to withdraw from a Ukrainian-Russian ceasefire control group could worsen the fighting in eastern Ukraine.
Earlier this week the State Department approved an export license for Ukraine to buy certain light weapons and small arms from U.S. manufacturers.
Senator John McCain on Wednesday welcomed the small arms sale. McCain, a Republican, urged the president “to authorize additional sales of defensive lethal weapons, including anti-tank munitions, and to fully utilize security assistance funds provided by the Congress to enable Ukraine to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity.”