State approves $39M weapons sale to Ukraine

State approves $39M weapons sale to Ukraine
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The State Department has informally notified Congress that it approved a potential $39 million sale of Javelin anti-tank missiles to Ukraine, a congressional aide confirmed to The Hill.

The approval was first reported by Bloomberg, which said a formal announcement could come later Tuesday. The aide told The Hill a formal announcement should come “soon.”

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The sale covers 150 Javelin missiles and 10 missile launchers, the aide said.

The approval of the sale comes as House Democrats pursue an impeachment inquiry into President TrumpDonald John TrumpRepublicans aim to avoid war with White House over impeachment strategy New York Times editorial board calls for Trump's impeachment Trump rips Michigan Rep. Dingell after Fox News appearance: 'Really pathetic!' MORE, in part over his handling of U.S. military aid to Ukraine.

The Javelins are separate from almost $400 million in aid that was held up earlier this year, but they have still come under scrutiny after they were mentioned in the July call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that's at the center of the impeachment inquiry.

A State Department official declined to comment to The Hill ahead of the formal announcement.

Democrats are probing whether Trump pressured Ukrainian leaders to investigate former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenNew York Times editorial board calls for Trump's impeachment Graham invites Giuliani to testify about recent Ukraine trip Booker leads other 2020 Dems in petition urging DNC to change debate qualifications MORE, who is leading Trump in several 2020 polls, and his son, as alleged in a whistleblower complaint.

Among the questions is whether Trump held up military aid to Ukraine, which is battling Russian-backed separatists, as leverage.

About $400 million in aid for Ukraine approved by Congress was held up over the summer before being released Sept. 11.

Trump has acknowledged holding up the money, but has alternately said he did so because of concerns about corruption or because he believes Europe is not contributing enough to Ukraine.

The United States first sold Ukraine more than 200 Javelin missiles and related equipment in 2018.

In the July call, Zelensky told Trump his country was almost ready to buy more Javelins, according to a rough transcript of the call released by the White House last week.

Immediately after Zelensky mentioned the Javelins, according to the rough transcript, Trump said, “I would like you to do us a favor though” and asked Zelensky to look into CrowdStrike, a U.S.-based internet security company that initially examined the breach of the Democratic National Committee’s servers in 2016.

On the call, Trump also asked Zelensky to work with his personal attorney Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiGraham invites Giuliani to testify about recent Ukraine trip Judge orders State Dept. to search for and provide more Ukraine docs DOJ releases memos backing Trump immunity claims ahead of impeachment vote MORE and Attorney General William Bar to investigate Biden’s role in the firing of a Ukrainian prosecutor, according to the transcript.