The U.S. is entering a new phase of involvement in the Ukraine conflict. Washington signed off on an agreement to supply Kiev with lethal weapons, which Moscow contends undermines a 2015 agreement intended to end the fighting.
CGTN’s Roee Ruttenberg reports from Washington.
Many of the current U.S. sanctions against Russia stem from conflict Eastern Ukraine conflict, which has soured relations between Russia and the West.
Washington has long criticized Moscow over what it says has been support – material, financial, and logistical – of pro-Russian rebels in two eastern Ukraine regions in the Donbass. The militants have been fighting for either autonomy or total independence from Ukraine.
Russia denies it is providing the separatists weapons.
Still, the U.S. has made no effort in the past, and even now under the Trump administration, to hide which side it supports in this conflict.
Moscow argues that this latest move undermines the 2015 Minsk Agreement to end the fighting.
“The United States is, in fact, encouraging the resumption of large-scale bloodshed in Donbass, where the situation is already on the edge due to continuing shelling from the Kiev-controlled side,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said. “Washington, in fact, becomes an accomplice in killing of people.”
In the past, the U.S. has provided Ukraine with training and support equipment. It has also allowed private companies to sell small arms, such as rifles and other weapons, to Ukraine.
But under this new provision, Washington says it will provide Kiev with what the U.S. State Department calls “enhanced defensive capabilities.”
According to unnamed U.S. officials widely quoted in the media, the weapons will include American-made Javelin anti-tank missiles.
A new truce is scheduled to take effect Monday in eastern Ukraine. The group responsible for monitoring the conflict, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, has expressed fresh concern.
U.S. President Donald Trumps’ predecessor, Barack Obama, reportedly considered selling Ukraine heavier armaments, but stopped short of doing so.
Republicans criticized Obama for being weak, and even Trump has faced criticism that he’s been too soft on Moscow.
Last week, Russian officers withdrew from what’s known as the Joint Center for Control and Coordination in Ukraine. The group is essentially a joint patrol set up under the first Minsk Agreement.
Many Western countries have called on Russia to rejoin. This latest move by the U.S. could be a tactic to pressure Moscow to reverse its decision.