Jumping the gun: Poroshenko expects US arms in ‘a few weeks,’ Pentagon says ‘too early’ to set date
Poroshenko announced on Wednesday that it’s matter of weeks before the first shipment of US-made weapons arrives in Ukraine, as part of the military assistance plan that also envisages lethal arms supplies. “The first delivery should happen in a very few weeks,” Poroshenko told a press conference, noting “huge progress” in negotiations with “American partners.”
The Ukrainian president refused to specify which weapons he was expecting to be delivered in the first batch, adding that several shipments had already been agreed with the US, including supplies of anti-sniper complexes, means of electronic warfare, missile defense and “many other types of weapons.”
The Pentagon, however, has not confirmed the timeline suggested by Poroshenko. “On weapons delivery, it is premature to speculate on when that will happen," US Department of Defense spokesperson Sheryll Klinkel told Sputnik.
The much-awaited “defense package” for Kiev is worth a total of $47million and reportedly includes 210 anti-tank missiles and 35 Javelin launchers, which were repeatedly sought by the Ukrainian government. Javelin is one of the most advanced man-portable anti-tank missile systems in the world.
US President Donald Trump approved $350 million in “defensive lethal assistance” to Ukraine under the National Defense Authorization Act he signed into law in December. However, the allocation of half of the sum is conditional on substantial military reforms Ukraine must undergo to unlock the funds.
Moscow has repeatedly warned Washington that its decision to allow the export of lethal arms to Ukraine will fuel the smoldering conflict in the east of the country and embolden Kiev in its ongoing crackdown on the population of the Donbass region.
Since tensions broke out in eastern Ukraine in 2014, Kiev has repeatedly appealed to Washington to provide it with lethal weapons. However, the previous US administration of Barack Obama was reluctant to greenlight the request amid fears it could lead to a surge in violence in the region.
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