Ukrainian troops are using lethal weapons obtained from Poland and Italy, a pro-Russian rebel official charges. Alexander Brovko, a spokesman for the self-declared Luhansk People's Republic, said Friday that rebel fighters had discovered land mines around an airport in the Luhansk region of Donbas that could have only been placed there by Ukrainian troops. As yet, no Western country has authorized the sending of lethal aid into Ukraine.
"The Ukrainian military have been using mortar, anti-personnel and anti-tank mines made in Italy and Poland, as well as those of origins unknown to us," Brovko told the Russian news agency Tass. He also said other foreign ammunition was discovered during clearing of debris at the same airport.
Kiev has denied that it has any foreign weapons. "Unfortunately, in over 18 months of the war in Ukraine, we could not persuade our strategic counterparts to unblock the military-technical cooperation," Olexandr Turchynov, head of Ukraine's National Security and Defense Council, said Friday. "Till now, supplies of lethal weapons and modern military technologies are blocked, and there is only one way out for us -- to rely exclusively on own capacities and on own potential."
The topic of lethal aid has been a sore point for Kiev since U.S. President Barack Obama decided in February to supply the Ukrainian military with only non-lethal aid. While Obama was weighing his decision, German Chancellor Angela Merkel convinced him that supplying weapons to Ukraine would cause an arms supply race with the Kremlin. She contended that the war was best resolved at the negotiating table.
However, the U.S. Congress didn’t agree, overwhelmingly passing a resolution by 348-48 votes authorizing the Pentagon to give Kiev weapons to fight the war in eastern Ukraine. House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce, R-Calif., said after the vote in March that Ukraine was “at a turning point” and that "If we allow aggression against Ukraine to stand without us at least offering the Ukrainians the ability to defend themselves, we will signal to the world that our willingness to defend the post-World War II order is crumbling."
The White House ignored the resolution.
The 16-month Ukraine war has claimed the lives of more than 7,000 people and displaced as many as 1.5 million.