Ukrainian Defense Minister Stepan Poltorak on Friday said the decision by the United States to approve the supply of anti-tank missiles opened the door for closer military cooperation in the face of Russian aggression.
“Unfortunately the issue of giving lethal weapons was under consideration for a long time,” Poltorak said in an interview with Reuters.
“We have all possibilities to cooperate with the United States and to increase our cooperation including in the defense sector,” he said.
The report notes that the decision to provide lethal aid is sensitive. The Kremlin has repeatedly said supplying weapons to Ukraine would further destabilize the situation.
Read alsoU.S. State Department makes determination approving Javelin missile sale to UkrainePoltorak said the weapons would help the Ukrainian military respond to attacks that he said Russia was responsible for coordinating.
“Its policy was aggressive and remains so. That’s why the decision by the United States to supply lethal weapons is important for us,” he said.
“Putin primarily uses the Donbass not only as a training ground to train servicemen for deployment in other hotspots, including Syria, and not only to test new weapons, equipment and other instruments. But he also uses it to prevent Ukraine from developing quickly,” he said.
Read alsoPoroshenko thanks U.S. for decision to sell Javelins to UkraineThe report says it is not clear when the first supplies of anti-tank missiles will be delivered to Ukraine, but Poltorak said preparations were already underway in terms of selecting personnel and safe storage for an expected delivery this year.
As UNIAN reported earlier, in late 2017, the Donald Trump Administration decided to sell lethal weapons to Ukraine, in particular, Javelin ATGMs.
On January 17, Chief of Ukraine's General Staff Viktor Muzhenko said the deliveries were expected within 2 to 6 months.
On February 17, President Poroshenko said Ukraine would receive more aid from the U.S., beyond Javelins, in the framework of military-technical cooperation.
On Thursday, the Pentagon announced that the sale of 210 Javelin missiles and 37 Javelin Command Launch Units to Ukraine had been approved.