BRUSSELS, Jan. 17 – The U.S. will probably deliver first Javelin anti-tank systems to Ukraine within the next six months, Gen. Viktor Muzhenko, the Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces, said Wednesday.
"They cite different timeframes - from two to five or six months," Muzhenko said told UNIAN news agency while attending a meeting at NATO headquarters in Brussels.
U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration last month approved a plan to provide lethal weapons to Ukraine, including Javelin systems, to boost its defenses against Russian-backed separatists armed with Russian tanks.
Muzhenko said one of the issues is to make sure that the new weapons do not end up in the enemy hands and Ukraine is taking measures for this.
"In order to get such weapons, we need to have appropriately prepared places for their storage, because there are requirements for that,” Muzhenko said.
“We already identified such places, their preparation continues and there will be no problems at the sites where such weapons will be stored,” he said.
"Nobody is going to hand [the systems] over, give away, or even, let's say, abandon them on the battlefield," Muzhenko said. This is the equipment to be introduced into the arsenal of the Ukrainian army and is an element of deterrence in countering the Russian Federation.”
Previously, the U.S. has provided Ukraine with support equipment and training, and has let private companies sell some small arms like rifles.
Ukraine seeks deterrence weapons that would stop Russian tanks, the most potent weapons used by pro-Russian forces in the conflict in Donbas. More than 10,000 were killed in the conflict since 2014.
Trump had been considering the plan for some time after the State Department and the Pentagon signed off earlier last year. President Barack Obama also considered sending lethal weapons to Ukraine, but left office without doing so.
The United States and European nations struggle to break a long logjam in the Ukraine-Russia conflict that erupted three years ago when fighting broke out between Russian-backed separatists and government troops in the east.
France, Russia and Germany brokered a peace arrangement in 2015 that has lowered violence but not stopped it, and a political settlement outlined in the deal hadn't been fully implemented.
In Europe last month, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called Russia's involvement the biggest tension point between the former Cold War rivals. (om/ez)