Trump expected to sign off on plan to sell anti-tank missiles to Ukraine

Trump expected to sign off on plan to sell anti-tank missiles to Ukraine
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President TrumpDonald John TrumpWhite House counsel called Trump 'King Kong' behind his back: report Trump stays out of Arizona's ugly and costly GOP fight Trump claims he instructed White House counsel to cooperate with Mueller MORE is expected to authorize the sale of anti-tank missiles to Ukraine's military, possibly including the Javelin missile system, as the country battles pro-Russian separatists in Crimea.

ABC News, citing State Department sources, reported that Trump is expected to formally sign a plan to sell $47 million worth of anti-tank missiles, launchers and related equipment to Ukraine's military. The plan would then head to Congress for a 30-day review period.

The State Department confirmed that the U.S. had decided to provide Ukraine with defensive equipment.

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"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," State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement.

"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 United States remains committed to the Minsk agreements as the way forward in eastern Ukraine."

The Trump administration earlier this week signed off on a sale of lethal arms to Ukraine, a departure from the Obama administration.

The administration approved the sale of Model M107A1 sniper systems and associated equipment to the country on Wednesday at a value of $41.5 million. The move drew swift praise from Russia hawks in Congress, including Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerSen. Warner to introduce amendment limiting Trump’s ability to revoke security clearances White House weighs clawing back State, foreign aid funding Rand Paul to ask Trump to lift sanctions on Russian leaders MORE (R-Tenn.), who had urged the Obama administration to do more about Russian aggression into Ukraine.

“I’m pleased the administration approved the sale of defensive lethal arms to Ukraine,” Corker said of the Trump decision. “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.”

In August, Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisMattis says he'll dispatch Navy hospital ship to help Venezuelan migrants Pentagon, GOP breathe sign of relief after Trump cancels parade Overnight Defense: Pompeo creates 'action group' for Iran policy | Trump escalates intel feud | Report pegs military parade cost at M MORE dismissed criticism that providing lethal weapons to Ukraine could be seen as a provocation in the region.

“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.

The Kremlin, however, condemned Wednesday's move, warning that it “will once again motivate the hotheads” on the Ukrainian side of the conflict and "unleash bloodshed again."

Updated 8:22 p.m.