WASHINGTON – The Trump administration has approved a plan to provide lethal weapons to Ukraine, U.S. officials said Friday, aiming to fortify the former Soviet republic military as it fights separatists backed by Russia.
The new arms include American-made Javelin anti-tank missiles that Ukraine has long sought to boost its defenses against tanks that have rolled through eastern Ukraine during violence that has killed more than 10,000 since 2014. Previously, the U.S. has provided Ukraine with support equipment and training, and has let private companies sell some small arms like rifles.
The officials describing the plan weren't authorized to discuss it publicly and demanded anonymity.
The move is likely to escalate tensions between the United States and Russia, as President Donald Trump contends with ongoing questions about whether he's too hesitant to confront the Kremlin. Ukraine accuses Russia of sending the tanks, and the U.S. says Moscow is arming, training and fighting alongside the separatists.
Trump had been considering the plan for some time after the State Department and the Pentagon signed off earlier this year. President Barack Obama also considered sending lethal weapons to Ukraine.
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