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Top U.S. Military Commander in Europe Calls For Lethal Weaponry For Ukraine

The commander of U.S. forces in Europe, General Curtis Scaparrotti (file photo)
The commander of U.S. forces in Europe, General Curtis Scaparrotti (file photo)

WASHINGTON -- The top U.S. military commander in Europe again backed sending more advanced weaponry to Ukraine to help it in its fight against Russia-backed separatists.

U.S. Army General Curtis Scaparrotti's comments on March 28 reflected on the continuing debate that erupted following Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula in 2014, and the separatist insurgency that later broke out.

"I personally believe we need to consider lethal defensive weapons for Ukraine," Scaparrotti told a hearing of the House Armed Services Committee.

The administration of then-President Barack Obama sent Ukraine flak jackets, night-vision goggles, and other equipment. But officials resisted calls, in Congress and elsewhere, to send "lethal defensive weaponry" such as Javelin antitank missiles, fearing that would invite escalation from Russia.

Obama's successor, Donald Trump, has spoken of a more conciliatory approach toward Russia since his election, but has made no indication one way or another if more serious weaponry was under consideration.

Some of his cabinet members, including Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, have made pointed comments indicating a tougher approach to Moscow than Trump himself has espoused.

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