Lithuania’s ambassador to Ukraine says Vilnius is ready to start shipping defensive weapons to Ukraine to help the country stop Russia seizing more of its territory.
Marius Yanukonis told Ukraine’s Channel 5 that Lithuania wanted to be the first country to openly arm Ukraine and hoped it would set an example to other NATO countries which he said should follow suit.
The move came as US Senator John McCain, during a trip to Kyiv, piled more pressure on the Obama administration saying the US must do more to deter Russia from escalating its military operations in Ukraine. McCain said that the US must arm Ukraine without delay before Putin became more emboldened.
John McCain, Republican US Senator: “The House of Representatives feels the same, overwhelming majority of American people feel the same. I can’t answer for the president of the United States and his administrations, except to say that I know that this is shameful, shameful that we would not provide them with weapons to defend themselves. They are fighting with 20th century weapons against Russia’s 20st century weapons. That’s not a fair fight.”
NATO has been holding military drills across several Eastern European countries in recent weeks as a way of reassuring NATO-member countries there unnerved by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine; but Kyiv is hoping for more US support.
Last week the US Congress passed the National Defence Authorization Act (NDAA) which includes a provision that would give President Barack Obama’s administration USD 300 million for Ukrainian security assistance if Obama signs the bill.
US military advisors are already training the Ukrainian military. About 300 US paratroopers arrived in Ukraine in April to train Kyiv’s National Guard.
Britain has already sent military personnel to train Ukrainian troops, while Canada and Poland have pledged to send 200 and 50 instructors respectively this year. But Western countries with the exception of Lithuania have so far declined its requests to supply weapons.