President Donald Trump’s administration has made a potentially significant turn against Russia after it allowed export of arms to Ukraine. According to Heather Nauert, U.S. State Department spokeswoman, the department notified the Congress on December 13 that it had approved an export license, which allows Ukraine to buy certain light weapons and small arms produced in the United States, CNN reports.
“The US government is not selling the Ukrainian government these weapons,” she said and added that the U.S. has not provided lethal defensive equipment to Ukraine, nor has it ruled out doing so.
Her confirmation included a statement that former presidents have also approved exports to Ukraine.
“Under the previous two administrations, the US government has approved export licenses to Ukraine, so this is nothing new,” she emphasized.
Former President Barack Obama’s administration has authorized categories of commercial sales, including light weapons, for delivery to Ukraine, State Department reports show. A bill that authorized the administration to send weapons to the European country was passed in 2014 after the conflict in Ukraine began.
This week the president unveiled his National Security Strategy, a document which challenged Moscow on several fronts. According to the strategy, Moscow’s ambition and capabilities are creating “an unstable frontier in Eurasia, where the risk of conflict due to Russian miscalculation is growing.”
Official Moscow reacted to the reports that the United States and Canada have decided to allow weapons exports to Ukraine. Maria Zakharova, a spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry accused Washington and Ottawa of making false claims about the conflict in Ukraine as a pretext to begin large-scale lethal deliveries to Ukraine. She added that arming Ukraine would further inflame tensions and push Ukraine towards reckless new military decisions.
But, according to Nauert, “Russia and its proxies are the source of violence in eastern Ukraine and the Russian government continues to perpetuate an active conflict and humanitarian crisis through its leadership and supply of military forces on the ground.” She added that Washington continued to call on Russia to withdraw from Ukraine.
In the meantime, the Treasury Department announced sanctions under the Magnitsky Act against five individuals. The reason for that are alleged human rights abuses in Russia.