Baltic countries to ship Washington-approved weapons to Ukraine
The Baltic nations of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania will send US-made anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles to Ukraine in a move Washington says it fully approves of amid escalating tensions between Kiev and Russia. Russia.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a tweet posted on Saturday that Washington saluted the three NATO nations and former Soviet republics “for their long-standing support for Ukraine.”
“I have expedited and authorized and we fully endorse the transfers of defensive equipment @NATO Allies Estonia Latvia Lithuania are providing to Ukraine to enhance its ability to defend against unprovoked and irresponsible Russian aggression,” said Blinken in another tweet.
Dmitry Peskov, spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin, earlier this week described Western arms deliveries to Ukraine as extremely dangerous and said they “do nothing to reduce tensions”.
Moscow has massed tens of thousands of troops on the border with Ukraine, raising fears of an invasion. The West has rejected Moscow’s main demands – NATO promises that Ukraine will never be added as a member, that no alliance weapons will be deployed near Russian borders and that it will withdraw its forces from Central and Eastern Europe.
A Friday meeting between Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov ended without a breakthrough.
In a joint statement released Friday evening, defense ministers from the three Baltic states said they “remain united in our commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of continued Russian aggression.” .
They said Estonia would supply Ukraine with Javelin anti-tank weapons while Latvia and Lithuania would send Stinger anti-aircraft missiles and other related equipment to bolster Kyiv’s defensive military capabilities.
“Today, Ukraine is at the forefront of separating Europe from the military conflict with Russia. Let’s face it, the war in Ukraine is ongoing and it is important to support Ukraine in every way possible so that it can resist the aggressor,” Estonian Defense Minister Kalle Laanet said.
It was not immediately clear when the weapons and equipment would be sent to Ukraine.
In a separate development, Estonia is seeking Germany’s approval to send Soviet-made howitzers, which once belonged to East Germany, to Ukraine. Estonia acquired the howitzers from non-NATO member Finland, which in turn had bought them from Germany’s surplus military supply in the 1990s.
The German government said on Friday it was considering Estonia’s request to hand over the howitzers to Ukraine, but gave no deadline for a decision. Berlin said it planned to coordinate the issue with Finland, which received a similar request for approval from Estonia.
Some recent media reports suggest German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s cabinet has blocked the transfer of arms from Estonia to Kyiv, underscoring tensions in the West’s response to the Ukraine crisis.