“The United States is pleased to be able to provide additional equipment,” William B. Taylor, the chargé d’affaires at the United States embassy in Kiev, said in Sunday remarks at the Sea Breeze military exercises in Odessa. “In particular, two Island Class boats from the United States will join the Ukrainian Navy’s fleet within a couple of months.”
“And I’m very pleased to announce today that Ukraine has requested for the first time the purchase of military equipment through a special US Defense Department program, called the Foreign Military Sales program.”
The island-class patrol boats are 110-foot, 168-ton cutters used by the US Coast Guard to patrol US littoral regions. They sport .50-caliber machine guns and 25-millimeter “bushmaster” deck guns.
It’s unclear what other weaponry might be supplied to Kiev, but in the last year, the Pentagon has moved to supply the former Soviet republic with $307 million in Javelin anti-tank missiles and another $200 million in security cooperation funds. The Trump administration’s decision reversed a policy put in place by Barack Obama, who was the US president when the pro-Western Maidan government seized power in a February 2014 coup d’etat, precipitating the rebellion of autonomous cities in the majority Russian-speaking cities in eastern Ukraine and the Crimean peninsula, the latter of which formally rejoined Russia later that year following a plebiscite.
Neither Kiev nor Washington recognize that plebiscite, however, and insist it was a land grab by Moscow.
“Crimea is Ukraine,” the US Embassy in Kiev said in a Monday tweet announcing a visit by Taylor to the Ukraine-Russia border on the narrow isthmus connecting Crimea to the mainland.
Крим – це Україна! Під час поїздки, організованої РНБО, Тимчасовий повірений у справах Тейлор відвідав адмінкордон з Кримом разом із представниками РНБО, СБУ, ЗC 🇺🇦, кримськотатарської громади, та підкреслив непохитну підтримку суверенітету та територіальної цілісності 🇺🇦з боку🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/wRUCMmqV7z— U.S. Embassy Kyiv (@USEmbassyKyiv) July 8, 2019
Obama’s policy was to not inflame the conflict between Kiev and the self-ruling cities of Donetsk and Luhansk by refusing to provide actual weaponry to the Ukrainian military, US military outlet Stars and Stripes noted. That war has claimed over 13,000 lives.
According to the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency, US foreign military sales in 2018 were up by one-third from the previous year. The administration has made a larger push to provide weapons to US allies: in March, Sputnik reported that US President Donald Trump’s draft budget request sought at least $5.4 billion for the Foreign Military Financing (FMF) grant assistance program, which provides loans to other countries for them to buy US military equipment.