U.S. approves license for Ukraine to buy small arms from U.S. firms

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. State Department has approved an export license for Ukraine to buy certain light weapons and small arms from U.S. manufacturers, spokeswoman Heather Nauert said on Wednesday.

Department records show Ukraine has bought small amounts of those types of weapons for several years, both before and after the 2014 Russian annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula.

The department notified Congress of the decision on Dec. 13, Nauert said, adding that the U.S. government was not selling the weapons directly to the Kiev government but was allowing Ukraine to buy from U.S. manufacturers.

“Under the previous two administrations, the U.S. government has approved export licenses to Ukraine, so this is nothing new,” Nauert said.

The license covers weapons in categories such as semi-automatic and automatic firearms up to, and including, .50 caliber weapons. It also includes combat shotguns, silencers, military scopes, and flash suppressors, as well as parts.

Nauert said the U.S. government had not directly provided lethal defensive equipment to Ukraine, nor had it ruled out doing so. U.S. exporters can apply for direct commercial sales licenses at any time and those are reviewed by the State Department on a case-by-case basis, she said.

Reporting by Arshad Mohammed; Writing by David Alexander; Editing by Clarence Fernandez