The Pentagon has disclosed details of the shipment of anti-tank missile systems and projectiles supplied to Kiev, as Moscow grows increasingly concerned about the prospect of a full-blown conflict in Ukraine’s Donbass region.
In a statement received by Russian news outlet TASS on Thursday, Pentagon spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Anton Semelroth said that “the $60 million package… included 30 Javelin command and control launchers, as well as 180 missiles.” According to him, the rocket launchers were delivered to Ukraine on October 23.
“In 2021, the US allocated more than $450 million in aid to Ukraine for security tasks as part of our continued commitment to support the country’s ability to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity,” the spokesman added.
Semelroth’s comments come amid warnings from Moscow over tensions in the war-torn region close to Russia’s borders. Last week, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that “more and more forces and equipment are being accumulated on the line of contact in the Donbass, supported by an increasing number of Western instructors.”
At the end of November, the top diplomat said that claims Ukraine’s troops had deployed American-made Javelin rocket launchers were a matter of grave concern and could lead to a full-blown offensive in the war-torn region.
“In recent weeks, we have seen a stream of consciousness from the Ukrainian leadership – especially when it comes to the military – that is excessively inflamed and dangerous,” Lavrov said.
Just hours before, the head of Ukraine’s military intelligence service, Kirill Budanov, revealed that advanced US-made Javelin systems had been tested by Ukraine’s troops and were being used by soldiers in the Donbass.
Russia’s ambassador in Washington, Anatoly Antonov, warned the White House earlier in November that supplying Ukraine with deadly armaments could diminish hopes for peace in the region, stating that Moscow believes “another opportunity to encourage Kiev to stop the war has been missed.”
The conflict in eastern Ukraine began following the events of the 2014 Maidan, which eventually led to the ‘People’s Republics’ in Donetsk and Lugansk declaring their independence. However, neither Moscow nor Kiev officially recognize them, and the Kremlin has insisted that the onus is on Ukraine to strike a peace deal with the leaders of the breakaway regions.