WASHINGTON — Pentagon officials said Wednesday the sale of Javelin anti-tank missiles to Ukraine is a critical component in the efforts by the U.S. and other NATO nations to bolster Kiev’s ability to ward off the ongoing aggression from Russia.
The sale was formally announced Tuesday by the State Department but had been suggested earlier this year by Pentagon leaders as part of any defense weapons and materials package provided to Ukraine.
Approval by the State Department of the $39 million sale, which centers around 150 of the portable anti-tank weapons, comes as investigations continue into whether President Trump withheld separate military aid to Ukraine this summer as a tool to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter.
Zelensky asked Trump for the Javelins during a July 25 phone call where Trump provided the Ukrainian president for a “favor” to investigate the Bidens.
Trump has admitted he halted the delivery of nearly $400 million in congressionally-mandated security assistance funds to Ukraine over the summer, just before he asked the new president of Ukraine to investigate.
Seven senators sent a letter to the Pentagon’s inspector general calling for a review into the role that the Pentagon might have played in delaying funds intended to help Ukraine.
In May, Defense Undersecretary for Policy John Rood wrote to Congress and “certified that the Government of Ukraine has taken substantial actions to make defense institutional reforms for the purposes of decreasing corruption (and) increasing accountability.”
That letter was legally required to release the $250 million of the aid that flowed from Pentagon coffers. In June, Pentagon officials publicly announced the release of the money. It was to be spent on sniper rifles, ammunition, and counter-artillery radar systems and other equipment, as well as training and interoperability support. An additional $141 million was to come from the State Department.
Congress had been notified on Feb. 28 and May 23 that the White House intended to send the assistance.