Ukraine Has Received US Javelin Missiles, NATO Commander Says

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A U.S. Army paratrooper assigned to 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade fires an FGM-148 Javelin shoulder-fired anti-tank missile during a combined arms live-fire exercise at Grafenwoehr Training Area, Germany, August 21, 2019. (U.S. Army photo/Henry Villarama)
A U.S. Army paratrooper assigned to 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade fires an FGM-148 Javelin shoulder-fired anti-tank missile during a combined arms live-fire exercise at Grafenwoehr Training Area, Germany, August 21, 2019. (U.S. Army photo/Henry Villarama)

NATO Commander Gen. Tod Wolters said Tuesday that Javelin anti-tank missiles sent to Ukraine in a controversial sale had been delivered, but declined to say whether the weapons had been deployed to the front lines to face Russian-backed separatists in the eastern Donbas region.

"We have delivered Javelins," Wolters said, adding that "the feedback has been very positive" from Ukrainian troops training with U.S. personnel on their use.

While Wolters said he couldn't say how many Javelins had been delivered, he noted that Ukrainians trained in their use now have a "better sense of purpose" in their ability to defend against aggression from the east.

Speaking at a breakfast with reporters in Washington, D.C., Wolters declined twice to respond to questions on whether the FGM-148 Javelins had been deployed to Ukrainian troops facing the Russian-backed separatists, or whether they had been fired in combat.

The sale of 152 Javelins was discussed in a controversial July 25 phone call between President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

A separate issue in the call was a military aid package of nearly $400 million that had been approved by Congress, but Zelensky also brought up the Javelin sale, according to a transcript of the call released by the White House.

In ongoing impeachment proceedings, House Democrats have alleged that Trump held up delivery of military aid in an effort to pressure Zelensky to investigate potential presidential rival Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden.

Trump and his supporters in Congress have maintained that the phone call with Zelensky was focused on efforts to root out corruption in Ukraine.

Wolters also declined to speculate on whether concerns about corruption in Ukraine had held up the military aid package and the sale of the Javelins.

"I'm a military commander. I work the military-to-military lane. That's a question that's better asked and answered" by the State Department, he said.

The State Department in October approved the sale of the Javelins and related equipment to Ukraine for about $39 million.

Zelensky met Russian President Vladimir Putin for the first time Monday in Paris for talks that also included German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron.

The talks focused on the possibility of a ceasefire. But Zelensky said later that it was "vital for Ukraine to restore control of the entire length of its border."

-- Richard Sisk can be reached at Richard.Sisk@Military.com.

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