Mattis Says Defensive Arms For Ukraine Not Provocative

Ukraine Two people injured in explosion near government’s headquarters in Kiev

Ukraine, which has been mired in a military conflict in the southeastern regions for three years, has repeatedly asked for supplies of lethal and non-lethal weapons from the European Union and the United States.

Trump himself sent his congratulations and support to Kiev, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko's administration said Thursday.

While emphasizing Trump had yet to take a decision on the issue, Mattis signaled his personal support for a longstanding Ukrainian request for defensive weapons, which could include anti-tank Javelin missiles and anti-aircaft systems.

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And Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in July that US goals are to restore Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity and to seek the safety and security of all Ukrainian citizens regardless of nationality, ethnicity or religion, Mattis noted. He did not say so, but it is known that the Pentagon and the State Department have recommended going ahead with defensive weapons transfers to Ukraine. They have also called on Russian Federation to abide by the terms of the 2015 Minsk II ceasefire agreement, which requires the withdrawal of all heavy weaponry, prisoner exchanges and local elections in the separatist-occupied provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk, among other provisions.

"Unfortunately, Russia is not adhering to the letter, much less the spirit of these worldwide commitments", he said.

Ukraine is among the countries most affected by any changes of USA policy towards Russian Federation and Trump's administration now lives in the shadow of a mounting hill of allegations of improper contact with Russian Federation officials during the presidential election campaign.

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"We in the United States understand the strategic challenges associated with Russian aggression - alongside our allies, we remain committed to upholding the widely accepted worldwide norms that have increased global stability for decades", Mattis added.

With the change of course in Afghanistan, McCain said, Trump "now has the same opportunity with regard to Ukraine".

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