WASHINGTON, November 19 (Sputnik) — The United States has to consider providing lethal equipment to Ukraine, US Deputy Secretary of State Nominee Anthony Blinken has announced.
"One element that could hopefully get them [Russia] to think twice and deter them from further action is strengthening the capacity of the Ukrainian forces, including with defensive lethal equipment," Blinken said Wednesday at the nomination hearing in the US Senate.
Providing Ukraine with lethal weapons is something the United States "should be looking at", Blinken told US senators.
Within the US Senate there is bipartisan support for supplying Ukraine with lethal military equipment, US Senators John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and James Inhofe being among the fiercest proponents.
During his September visit to the United States, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko requested lethal military assistance from the Obama administration, but Washington refused to grant it.
Since the beginning of the military conflict in eastern Ukraine in spring, Kiev and the West have repeatedly accused Russia of intervening in the Ukrainian crisis, going as far as to claim that Moscow has sent troops and weapons to independence supporters in eastern Ukraine. However, the claims were not supported with any evidence.
The Ukrainian conflict escalated in mid-April, when Kiev launched a military operation in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, where people refused to recognize the new government which came to power after the February coup.