WASHINGTON ― The U.S. State Department is poised to officially clear the sale of Javelin anti-tank missiles to Ukraine, in a long-awaited move that will give Ukraine’s military a new capability four years after Russia’s annexation of Crimea.
The announcement, reported by Defense News earlier in the day, was officially posted Thursday afternoon on the website of the Defense Security Cooperation Agency. The potential sale would be worth an estimated $47 million, covering 210 Javelin missiles and 37 Javelin command launch units, or CLU, plus two more for spares.
The missiles will be drawn from U.S. Army stocks, with the CLUs obtained from on-hand Special Defense Acquisition Fund-purchased stocks. The SDAF is a special State Department fund set up to speed expected requests for military equipment from allies. If State Department officials expect a request will be made, they can pre-purchase the equipment so it is already under production before a deal is made official.
In the case of the Javelin sale to Ukraine, it has been a long time coming.
Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2014, Kiev has called for lethal military aid to be supplied by the United States. However, the Obama administration, concerned that injecting such weapons into the already volatile situation in Ukraine could make the situation worse, instead settled on supplying training and support equipment.
Late last year, President Donald Trump signaled he wanted to move forward with the sale of the Javelin weapons.
Dollar figures may change after final negotiations, and members of Congress still have a window to object to the sale. But there has been widespread support on Capitol Hill for such a move.
U.S. lawmakers have pushed for lethal and nonlethal aid to Ukrainian forces combating pro-Russian rebels since Russia invaded Ukraine in 2014. The 2018 defense policy bill authorized increased funding for support to Ukraine.
“Ukraine is a critical ally to the United States, and I am so pleased to see our country provide this long-overdue assistance in Ukraine’s fight to push back against growing Russian aggression,” Iowa Republican Sen. Joni Ernst, chair of the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Emerging Threats, said in a statement. “Providing lethal aid to Ukraine shows that the United States is serious about protecting the interests of our nation and our allies.”
This story was updated April 1, 2018, at 4:30 p.m. EST after the formal release of the DSCA announcement.
Aaron Mehta was deputy editor and senior Pentagon correspondent for Defense News, covering policy, strategy and acquisition at the highest levels of the Defense Department and its international partners.