State formally approves $39M Ukraine arms sale

The State Department formally approved a potential $39.2 million sale of Javelin anti-tank missiles and related equipment to Ukraine, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency announced Thursday.

News of the approval broke earlier this week, but Thursday’s announcement represented the formal notification to Congress of the approval.

{mosads}The sale, which is now subject to a 30-day congressional review period, would include 150 Raytheon-made Javelin missiles and 10 launchers, as well as related equipment and support.

“This proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by improving the security of Ukraine,” Thursday’s announcement said. “The Javelin system will help Ukraine build its long-term defense capacity to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity in order to meet its national defense requirements.”

The United States first sold Ukraine 210 Javelin missiles and 37 launchers in 2018.

Thursday’s announcement comes as House Democrats pursue an impeachment inquiry into President Trump, in part over his handling of U.S. military aid to Ukraine.

The Javelins are separate from almost $400 million in Pentagon and State Department 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 an impeachment inquiry.

Democrats are probing whether Trump pressured Ukrainian leaders to investigate 2020 election rival and former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, as alleged in a whistleblower complaint.

Among the questions is whether Trump held up military aid to Ukraine, which is battling Russia-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  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.

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 Giuliani and Attorney General William Bar to investigate Biden’s role in the firing of a Ukrainian prosecutor, according to the reconstituted transcript.

Tags Donald Trump Joe Biden Rudy Giuliani
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