The U.S. is allowing three NATO allies to send American-made weapons to Ukraine amid growing fears of an imminent Russian invasion.
A State Department spokesperson confirmed to The Hill that the agency has authorized third-party transfers for Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania to send “U.S. origin equipment from their inventories for use by Ukraine.”
“The United States and its allies and partners are standing together to expedite security assistance to Ukraine,” the spokesperson said. “We are in close touch with our Ukrainian partners and our NATO Allies on this and are utilizing all available security cooperation tools to help Ukraine bolster its defenses in the face of growing Russian aggression.”
News of the transfer comes as the Biden administration warns of the immediacy of the threat of a Russian invasion of Ukraine amid Moscow’s amassing an estimated 100,000 troops near its border with Ukraine.
Third-party transfers are only authorized if recipients of weapons of U.S. origin obtain written consent from the State Department before transfer, according to the agency’s website.
According to Politico, which cited an administration official, the requests from the countries were received in recent weeks, with the last of them being approved Wednesday, a day after being received.
The State Department spokesperson didn’t elaborate on what specific weapons were approved for transfer.
Estonia will provide Javelin anti-armor missiles, while Lithuania and Latvia will provide Stinger anti-aircraft missiles and adjacent equipment, the countries said in a statement to The Hill.
“Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania and their allies are working together expeditiously to hand over the security assistance to Ukraine,” the three nations said. “We sincerely hope that Ukraine will face no need to use this equipment and call on Russian Federation to seize its aggressive and irresponsible behavior.”
The U.S. has invested more than $2.7 billion in military assistance to Ukraine under the authority of the State Department and Department of Defense since 2014, when Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula.
In the last year alone, Washington has committed $650 million in defense equipment and related services to Ukraine, the spokesperson said, more than at any other point since 2014.
On top of this funding, the U.S. has expedited up to $60 million in lethal and nonlethal equipment from existing Pentagon stocks since August and in December authorized up to $200 million in additional security assistance to Ukraine.
— Updated Jan. 21 at 11:28 a.m.