‘US to provide enhanced defence capabilities to Ukraine’

Washington: The US has decided to provide enhanced defence capabilities to Ukraine to help it build long-term defence capacity to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity, an official said today.

“The United States has decided to provide Ukraine enhanced defencive capabilities as part of our effort to help Ukraine build its long-term defence capacity to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity, and to deter further aggression,” State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said.

The US assistance is entirely defencive in nature, she added.

“We have always said, Ukraine is a sovereign country and has a right to defend itself. The United States remains committed to the Minsk agreements as the way forward in eastern Ukraine,” Nauert said.

She did not provide any further details.

Early this week, The Washington Post had said the Trump administration has approved the largest US commercial sale of lethal defencive weapons.

These include export of Model M107A1 Sniper Systems, ammunition, and associated parts and accessories to Ukraine, a sale valued at USD 41.5 million, the daily said.

Top Republican Senator John McCain welcomed the decision.

“This decision is years overdue, but nonetheless, it comes at a pivotal moment,” he said.

Ukrainians are enduring a worst fighting in several months as Russia has withdrawn its officers from a key ceasefire implementation mechanism and Russian-led forces have escalated their attacks in eastern Ukraine.

“At every turn, Vladimir Putin has chosen war instead of peace in Ukraine. So long as he makes this choice, the United States and the Free World should give Ukraine what it needs to fight back,” McCain said, adding that is why the reported decision to authorise the sale of sniper rifles and ammunition must only be a first step.

“I urge the President to authorise additional sales of defencive lethal weapons, including anti-tank munitions, and to fully utilise security assistance funds provided by the Congress to enable Ukraine to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity,” he said.

“I also urge the President and congressional leadership to ensure that any budget deal fully supports the USD 350 million in security assistance for Ukraine authorised by the National Defence Authorisation Act signed into law this month,” the Republican Senator said.