US State Department approves new Ukraine missile sale

The US Department of State has approved the sale of 150 Javelin-type anti-tank missiles for Ukraine worth 39 million US dollars, Politico has reported.

The State Department’s decision, which was confirmed by the Foreign Relations Committee of the US Senate, comes one week after the release of a controversial phone call between US President Donald Trump and Volodymyr Zelensky, his Ukrainian counterpart.

In the July 25 phone call with Mr Trump, Mr Zelensky expressed his interest about buying a new package of Javelin missiles to which the US president responded by asking his Ukrainian counterpart for “a favour”, namely investigating former US vice president Joe Biden, Mr Trump’s top political rival.

US Democrats have launched impeachment inquiries into the phone call, claiming that Mr Trump withheld a foreign and military assistance package of 400 million US dollars for Ukraine unless the activities of Mr Biden and his son, Hunter in Ukraine are investigated.

Observers see the State Department’s proposal as a move to defy the allegations against Mr Trump and US State Secretary Mike Pompeo, who was also present during the phone call and has been subpoenaed by the US Congress.

Pressure is now mounting over Mr Pompeo’s department to clarify its involvement in the US president’s efforts to investigate a political rival. However, Mr Pompeo has said that he will not testify before the congressional committees.

Speaking to reporters on October 2, Mr Pompeo reiterated the Trump administration’s support for Ukraine.

“It was taking down the threat that Russian poses there in Ukraine,” he said, summarising US policy on Ukraine. “It is about helping Ukrainians get graft out, and corruption out of their government, and to help this new government in Ukraine build a successful, thriving economy. And that’s what we will continue to do, even while all this noise is going on,” he continued.

The new arms deal follows a previous one when the US sold 210 missiles and 37 rocket launchers for 47 million US dollars in March 2018.