The Trump administration has decided to supply Ukraine with new defense weaponry so the sovereign nation can better protect itself from separatist attacks, reports the Associated Press.
According to The Wall Street Journal, the State Department wouldn’t confirm if the defensive armaments being supplied to Ukraine were lethal "Javelin" anti-tank missiles. However, in a statement released on Friday, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said:
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.
Nauert stressed that the "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."
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko thanked the United States on Facebook:
I am grateful for the leadership of President Donald Trump, clear position of all our American friends, and for strong bipartisan support of Ukraine. American weapons in the hands of Ukrainian soldiers are not for offensive (purposes), but for stronger rebuff of the aggressor, protection of Ukrainian soldiers and civilians, as well as for effective self-defense. It is also a trans-Atlantic vaccination against the Russian virus of aggression.
Not surprisingly, this move has angered Russia.
Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov called the United States "an accomplice in fueling a war," adding that "American weapons can lead to more victims in the neighboring country, and we couldn't stay indifferent to that."
Two other Russian political leaders condemned the move as well, according to the Associated Press.
France and Germany have voiced concern regarding the possibility that the new defensive weapons would escalate tensions between Ukraine and Russia, asking that "combatants" stick to a 2015 "peace deal."
The Trump administration’s decision comes nearly four years after Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula. As of December, approximately 22,400 have been injured and more than 10,300 have been killed in the conflict between Ukrainian officials and Russian-backed rebels, according to the Council on Foreign Relations.