U.S. will provide anti-tank weapons to Ukraine, State Dept. official says

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State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said late on December 22 that the assistance is meant to help Ukraine "defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity, and to deter further aggression".

For years, the US has debated whether to provide Ukraine with "lethal" defensive weapons to counter separatists backed by Russian Federation in eastern Ukraine.

Washington is ready to offer Ukraine "enhanced defensive capabilities", the US State Department has confirmed, after several US officials said the Trump administration has approved plans to supply Kiev with lethal weapons.

"The United States remains committed to the Minsk Agreements as the way forward in eastern Ukraine", she said, adding that the State Department would not comment further on the situation "at this time".

She did not provide any further details.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova responded to reports that the U.S. and Canada have made a decision to allow weapons exports to Ukraine by accusing Washington and Ottawa of making false claims about the conflict in Ukraine as a "pretext to begin large-scale lethal weapons deliveries to Ukraine".

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These include export of Model M107A1 Sniper Systems, ammunition, and associated parts and accessories to Ukraine, a sale valued at United States dollars 41.5 million, the daily said.

Nauert had also addressed the conflict in Ukraine on Tuesday, saying, "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".

"At every turn, Vladimir Putin has chosen war instead of peace in Ukraine".

"I urge the President to authorise additional sales of defencive lethal weapons, including anti-tank munitions, and to fully utilise security assistance funds provided by the Congress to enable Ukraine to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity", he said.

Trump is already faced with questions around whether he's hesitant about confronting Putin face to face, as was the case in Vietnam when the two leaders discussed Russian involvement in meddling with USA elections a year ago.

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