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Pentagon, State Department devise plans to provide arms to Ukraine: Report

The Departments of Defense and State have come up with plans to provide Ukraine with weapons as the country continues to battle Russia-backed separatists, and are now seeking support from the White House, according to a report.

The weapons, characterized by military officials as “defensive,” are meant to discourage aggression from Moscow, which has given tanks and other arms to separatists battling Ukrainian government forces, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Under the plans from the Pentagon and State Department, the U.S. would give Ukraine anti-tank weapons such as Javelin missiles, anti-aircraft weapons, and other arms.

Russia invaded and annexed Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula in 2014, and since then, the Russian government has been supporting rebels in the eastern part of Ukraine.

Approximately 10,000 people have been killed in the conflict in eastern Ukraine, according to the United Nations, and U.S. officials are worried the fighting has intensified.

“The level of violence is up a bit of late,” Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, commander of U.S. European Command and NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe, told the Wall Street Journal. “The Russians provide equipment, some of their most modern equipment, and they provide proxy forces with advisers.”

Since 2014, the U.S. has limited its support for the Ukrainian military to “non-lethal aid and training,” and provided night-vision goggles and short-range radar, among other equipment, to Ukrainian government forces.

The Obama administration limited its assistance after German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other close allies opposed efforts to supply weapons to Ukraine.

Though Germany and France are still skeptical of such measures, U.S. officials believe other allies such as the United Kingdom, Canada, and Poland, may be open to boosting support.

According to a senior administration official, the plan to arm Ukraine wasn’t discussed at a meeting at the White House last week, and President Trump hasn’t yet been briefed on the proposals from the Pentagon and State Department.

But the measures reportedly do have the backing of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.

A spokeswoman for the Pentagon, Lt. Col. Michelle Baldanza, said the U.S. hasn’t “ruled out the option” of giving “lethal defensive weapons to Ukraine.”

Approval of a plan to provide weapons to Ukraine would come as tensions between Moscow and the U.S. continue to heighten.



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