US expected to announce approval of arms sale to Ukraine

The Trump administration has informally notified Congress that it will soon announce the approval of an arms sale to Ukraine involving Javelin anti-tank missiles, a U.S. official and congressional aide told CNN this week.

The formal announcement that the State Department has approved the sale is expected soon and congressional notifications are ongoing. Congress is expected to be supportive of the package.

Bloomberg was first to report that the sale had been informally approved.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky specifically brought up Kyiv’s desire to purchase additional Javelin anti-tank missiles from the U.S. during his controversial July 25 call with President Donald Trump. Shortly after he made his desire known, Trump responded by telling Zelensky: “I would like you to do us a favor though,” asking his Ukrainian counterpart to facilitate investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter, though there is no evidence of wrongdoing by either Biden.

Two U.S. defense officials told CNN the Ukrainian government’s Javelin request predates the July 25 phone call. Though it was mentioned on the call, the request does not appear to have been sped up or slowed as a result of the Trump-Zelensky call and subsequent fallout.

The missiles are not part of the $250 million in military assistance that was blocked by the Trump administration and are also not part of the $141 million in foreign military financing that was announced the same day the military aid was unfrozen.

The Javelins are being bought by Ukraine using national funds, and the package is valued at $39 million and will include 150 anti-tank missiles and two additional missile launchers. The anti-tank missiles are seen by Ukrainians as a critical weapon in helping to combat Russian-backed separatists in the country’s east.

A similar $47 million package for Ukraine was approved back in March of 2018 which involved 210 Javelin Missiles and 37 launchers.

The Obama administration had long refused to sell the Javelins to Ukraine despite repeated requests by Kyiv, and Trump has touted his willingness to so as evidence that his administration has been more supportive of the country.