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United States gives Baltic states permission to deliver U.S.-made weapons to Ukraine

FILE PHOTO: The seal of the United States Department of State is shown in Washington, U.S., January 26, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

Three sources familiar with the decision claimed the U.S. State Department had allowed Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia to deploy U.S.-made missiles and other weapons to Ukraine, as President Joe Biden feared Russia would act on Ukraine.

The news: Before transferring any weapons received from the U.S. to third parties, governments must obtain approval from the State Department under export control procedures.

  • According to one of the sources, the third-party transfer agreements will allow Estonia to supply Javelin anti-tank missiles to Ukraine, while Lithuania will be allowed to send Stinger missiles.

What they’re saying: A State Department spokesman acknowledged that the US government has approved third-party transfers permitting Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and the United Kingdom to send US-made weaponry to Ukraine from their stocks, but did not specify which weapons would be supplied.

  • “The US and its allies and partners are working together to send security assistance to Ukraine as soon as possible. We’re in constant contact with our Ukrainian colleagues and NATO allies, and we’re making imaginative use of all available security cooperation mechanisms to assist Ukraine in bolstering its defences in the face of rising Russian aggression,” said a spokeswoman.

What’s going on: After Biden told a news conference that Russia would pay a high price if it invaded Ukraine, word of the approved weapons supplies broke late Wednesday.

  • Russian officials have denied any plans to invade Ukraine, but the Kremlin has amassed 100,000 troops along Ukraine’s borders, which the West believes is a build-up in preparation for a conflict to prevent Ukraine from joining the NATO Western security alliance.
  • The issue has raised serious worries in Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia, as well as other NATO members and US politicians. On a visit to Kyiv this week, a bipartisan delegation of US senators pledged solidarity and weaponry.
  • The State Department did not respond to a request for comment on the approvals.
  • According to one of the sources, the approvals reflect a rising feeling of urgency over the crisis, following some early sluggishness on the side of the State Department.
  • The Biden administration approved $200 million in extra defensive security assistance to Ukraine in December, as well as $60 billion in lethal and non-lethal weapons from existing US military supplies.
  • Additional equipment could be delivered from excess US military supplies, according to US officials.

“If Russia continues to invade Ukraine, as President Biden reminded President Putin, we will send further defence material to the Ukrainians,” the official stated. “We are dedicated to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and we will continue to support Ukraine.”

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