The Biden administration is considering sending military advisers and new weapons to Ukraine in the face of a Russian military buildup near the border between the two countries, CNN reported Tuesday.
The proposed lethal aid package could include mortars, air defense systems such as stinger missiles and new Javelin anti-tank and anti-armor missiles, multiple sources familiar with the deliberations told the outlet.
Sources also said the Pentagon has pressed for some equipment that would have gone to Afghanistan to instead be sent to Ukraine, like Russian-made Mi-17 helicopters. The U.S. military has halted sending such equipment to Afghanistan with the end of its mission there in August.
U.S. officials have also talked with European allies about forming a new sanctions package that could go into effect should Russia invade Ukraine, the sources said.
The discussions are taking place as Ukraine has begun to warn the U.S. and allies that a Russian invasion could happen as soon as January.
Kyiv earlier this month noted the unusual Russian troop movements, but after discussions between U.S. and Ukrainian officials — and an estimated 92,000 Russian troops now placed close to the border — the warnings have grown.
U.S. and NATO intelligence now fear Moscow’s troop buildup is preparation for a military operation over Ukraine’s eastern border from multiple locations, much like when Russia invaded Crimea in 2014.
“Our concern is that Russia may make the serious mistake of attempting to rehash what it undertook back in 2014, when it amassed forces along the border, crossed into sovereign Ukrainian territory and did so claiming — falsely — that it was provoked,” Secretary of State Antony BlinkenAntony BlinkenBlinken: State Dept. tracking US embassy personnel in Kyiv 'very, very closely' Pope notes 'rising tensions' in Ukraine, calls for talks US maintains pressure on Russia amid concerns of potential Ukraine invasion MORE said last week.
Asked about the possible military package, a State Department spokesperson told The Hill that they had nothing to preview or confirm.
They did note, however, that the administration has “demonstrated that the United States is willing to use a number of tools to address harmful Russian actions and we will not hesitate from making use of those and other tools in the future.”
"We continue to have serious concerns about Russian military activities and harsh rhetoric towards Ukraine, and call on Moscow to de-escalate tensions," they added.
Russian officials, meanwhile, have maintained that the troops and military units are in the area as part of exercises and a response to threats from NATO. They also have called reports that they may soon invade Ukraine “false.”
Asked on Tuesday about the possibility that the U.S. will send additional assistance to Ukraine, Russia spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Tuesday suggested that should it happen, it could lead “to a further aggravation of the situation on the border line.”