Trump gives green light to selling lethal arms to Ukraine

Trump gives green light to selling lethal arms to Ukraine

The Trump administration on Wednesday approved the sale of lethal arms to Ukraine's government as the country battles pro-Russian separatists in its eastern provinces.

The Washington Post reported Wednesday that the administration approved the sale of Model M107A1 sniper systems and associated equipment to the country at a value of $41.5 million. The administration has not yet moved to approve sales of heavier arms requested by Ukraine's government, including Javelin anti-tank missiles.

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The move from the White House is a departure from the Obama administration, which frequently condemned Russian aggression in the Ukraine but refused to approve the sale of arms to the country's Western-aligned government.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerGOP leaders: No talk of inviting Russia delegation to Capitol Collins and Murkowski face recess pressure cooker on Supreme Court Tougher Russia sanctions face skepticism from Senate Republicans MORE (R-Tenn.) applauded the Trump administration's decision in a statement to the newspaper.

“I’m pleased the administration approved the sale of defensive lethal arms to Ukraine,” Corker said. “This decision was supported by Congress in legislation that became law three years ago and reflects our country’s longstanding commitment to Ukraine in the face of ongoing Russian aggression.”

“We have crossed the Rubicon; this is lethal weapons and I predict more will be coming,” a senior congressional official told The Washington Post.

Earlier this year, Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisOvernight Defense: Trump signs 7B defense policy bill into law | Rips McCain hours after signing bill named after him | Green Beret killed in Afghanistan blast US soldier killed by IED in Afghanistan Trump signs 7B annual defense policy bill into law MORE dismissed criticism that arming Ukraine could be seen as provocative when asked about the Trump administration reviewing the decision.

“Defensive weapons are not provocative unless you're an aggressor, and clearly, Ukraine is not an aggressor, since it's their own territory where the fighting is happening,” he said in August.