The U.S. administration plan to support Ukraine reached an important milestone this weekend as President Donald J. Trump approved a support plan to Ukraine, which, for the first time since the U.S. began its assistance plan in 2014. The total value of U.S. military support to Ukraine, since 2014 is estimated at more than US$750 million. The FY2018 budget allocates $350 million for military assistance to Kiev. The situation in Eastern Ukraine Donbass region continues to be tense since the Russian side has left the Joint Centre for Control and Coordination that has been stabilizing the region. This was followed by outbreaks in several spots across the Donbas, Ukraine’s Defense Ministry reported.

The newly approved support package includes the supply of lethal weapons. The military aid package worth $47 million comprised of FGM-148 Javelin multipurpose guided missiles. The US also approved financing for the deal.

Since its debut in the Middle East in the second Iraq war in 2003, the Javelin demonstrated high effectiveness in combat but has not been proven against the latest Russian tanks such as the T-90s. The Javelin weapon system is comprised of missiles stored in disposable containers, and reusable Command-Launch Units that are used for target acquisition and battlefield surveillance. Until recently the U.S. exported mainly the second-generation Raytheon BGM-71 TOW missiles but has recently approved the Javelin for export to former Eastern Bloc countries, including Ukraine and Georgia.

Designed by the Luch engineering bureau in Kyiv, over 50 missiles and an undisclosed quantity of Corsar launchers have already been delivered to the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Photo: UkrOboronProm

The sale of western weapons is important for the security of Ukraine, but even more critical as a symbolic backing the West gives Kiev. Ukraine already has the capability to produce ’s its own anti-tank missiles, for example, the Corsar and Stunga-P. Corsar is a man-portable, laser-guided Anti-Tank Guided Missile effective against main battle tanks at ranges up to 2.5 km. Stunga-P is a laser-guided weapon with an effective range of four kilometers. According to local media, about 50 Corsar missiles have been delivered to the Ukrainian military recently.

Another arms package approved last week by the State Department includes the export of Barret M107A1 semi-automatic long range sniper rifles (LRSR) and 0.50 cal ammunition at a value of $41.5 million. These rifles are effective at ranges up to 2,000 meters, exceeding the effective range of other sniper rifles and are therefore highly effective for counter-sniper operations in open or urban terrain. Canada has opened the door for sales of Automatic Firearms to Ukraine by adding Kiev to the Automatic Firearms Country Control List. This act will enable Canadian arms exporters to sell firearms to Ukraine, pending approval from the Canadian Foreign Ministry.