The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump has approved commercial sale of lethal defensive weapons to Ukraine, a State Department spokesperson told The Defense Post on Wednesday.
“The Department of State has licensed the commercial export of a limited number of small arms and light weapons to Ukraine from U.S. manufacturers,” the spokesperson said. “We have never had any policy that restricts such commercial sales.”
According to the Washington Post, the approved commercial license authorizes the export to Ukraine of Model M107A1 Sniper Systems and ammunition, as well as associated parts and accessories valued at $41.5 million.
The State Department official said Washington reviews requests for sales and export license applications on a case by case basis and “this one was no different.”
“The United States government has neither directly sold nor granted defensive weapons to Ukraine nor ruled out the option of doing so,” the spokesperson noted.
The U.S. announcement comes in the aftermath of Canada’s decision to include Ukraine in the Automatic Firearms Country Control List (AFCCL).
— Foreign Policy CAN (@CanadaFP) December 13, 2017
On December 13, Ottawa said that this change would allow Canadian companies and individuals to apply for a permit “to export certain prohibited firearms, weapons and devices to Ukraine.”
“The addition of Ukraine to the AFCCL reflects the close ties our countries share. Canada and Canadians will continue to stand with the people of Ukraine and support Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty,” Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said at the time.
Freeland is scheduled to arrive in Ukraine Thursday to meet with President Petro Poroshenko, Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman and Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin “to discuss the current political and security situation in the country,” according to the Canadian Foreign Ministry.
President Poroshenko has previously said that the U.S. and Canada had opened the “door to enhanced defense assistance for Ukraine.”
Russian Foreign Ministry has warned Washington and Ottawa against lethal weapons supplies to Kiev.
MFA: those in US and Canada who lobby and make decisions on supplying lethal weapons to Ukraine should think of personal responsibility pic.twitter.com/sveo29mR6x
— Russian Embassy, UK (@RussianEmbassy) December 15, 2017
“We would like to recommend those who are pushing [the countries] to such decisions and take them, to think about responsibility. It is clear that the pumping of Ukraine with American and Canadian means of war pushes the country’s leadership, which sabotages the Minsk agreements, to new military adventures,” Russia’s first deputy permanent representative to the UN Pyotr Ilyichev said.
“Everyone should understand that the conflict in the Donbass will not be resolved by force, and those who give arms to the murderers will be to blame for the death of people there,” he added.