WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States is expected to soon announce that it will send seized Iranian small arms and ammunition to Ukraine, a U.S. official said on Wednesday.
U.S. naval forces for years have been seizing weapons believed to be from Iran bound for Iran-backed fighters in Yemen, usually transported by fishing vessels.
A U.S. official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said an announcement could come as early as this week.
The weapons are expected to include small arms like guns and unlikely to make a major difference on the battlefield at a time when long-range weapons and air defense systems are on top of Ukraine’s wish list.
The seized weapons being transferred are also unlikely to ease concerns about the continued flow of western weapons to Kyiv.
The U.S. Congress included no new money for Ukraine in the stopgap U.S. spending bill it passed on Saturday to keep the federal government open, highlighting the increasing reluctance of some Republicans to provide funds for Kyiv.
Last year, Britain’s Royal Navy said one of its warships had seized Iranian weapons, including surface-to-air-missiles and engines for cruise missiles, from smugglers in international waters south of Iran.
Yemen’s Houthi movement has battled a Saudi-led coalition since 2015 in a conflict that has killed hundreds of thousands and left 80% of the population dependent on aid.
The United States has put pressure on its ally Saudi Arabia to end the war and linked some U.S. military support to the kingdom to ending its involvement in Yemen.
(Reporting by Idrees Ali; Editing by Marguerita Choy)