U.S. sends arms to Ukraine, to help arm small army

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The United States is set to send more small arms and ammunition to Ukraine in an effort to help the small army protect itself against Russian-backed fighters, according to the US State Department.

The shipments include Colt 29 pistols, Heckler & Koch 7.62mm automatic rifle ammunition, Kawasaki GWH-22 light machine guns, and 230 M249 light machine guns.

The weapons were shipped from the Florida-based company Sturm Ruger & Company through an agreement with the Ukrainian government, the State Department said.

“The additional military equipment will be transferred to the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense later this month,” a State Department official said Wednesday.

Russia accuses Ukraine of using arms supplied by the West to repel its own conflict with pro-Russia separatists in the east.

The Obama administration, while not calling the deliveries a defensive measure, says it’s non-lethal assistance to the Ukrainian government.

“The significant delivery of weapons and ammunition to Ukraine from the United States will strengthen the Ukrainian military’s ability to defend its country, but will not change the fundamental reality on the ground,” said State Department spokesman Robert Palladino.

Fighting in eastern Ukraine has intensified since the end of January. Fighting has continued even after peace deals signed in Minsk in February and September.

The US has provided 25,000 rockets, anti-tank weapons, small arms, ammunition and tactical vehicles to Ukraine since 2014, according to the State Department.

Until now, the US also has received almost 50 million rounds of ammunition from Ukraine for use in the ministry of defense, the State Department said.

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