Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said Saturday that the US decision to supply Ukraine with anti-tank weapons meant the United States “is clearly pushing [Ukraine] to new bloodshed.”
In a statement, Ryabkov said, “American weapons can lead to new victims in our neighboring country, to which we cannot remain indifferent,” adding, “the United States in a certain sense had crossed the line” and accused it of “fuelling the war” rather than acting as an intermediary.
Sen. John McCain, an Arizona Republican, released a statement Saturday morning supporting the decision.
“President Trump’s reported decision to provide Javelin anti-tank munitions to Ukraine marks another significant step in the right direction and sends a strong signal that the United States will stand by its allies and partners as they fight to defend their sovereignty and territorial integrity,” he wrote, adding, “… as I have long argued, providing defensive lethal assistance to Ukraine is not opposed to a peace in Ukraine — it is essential to achieving it.”
This is another development from the US that Russia was expected to criticize. Some experts told CNN that Russia could use this move as a pretext to take further action in Ukraine, after its invasion and annexation of the Crimea region in 2014.
The move comes amid a recent uptick in clashes between Ukrainian soldiers and Russian-backed separatists, and the same week the Trump administration announced it would permit sales of some small arms to Ukraine from US manufacturers.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had discussed the recent escalation in clashes in a phone call Friday with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, according to an official readout issued by the Ukrainian government.
Anti-tank weapons have long been seen as a critical capability to allow the Ukrainian military to combat the armored vehicles in the possession of the separatists, equipment that US officials say is supplied by Russia.