Obama administration Secretary of Defense Ash Carter praised the Pentagon's "strong" stance against Russia Friday morning in a speech made at his Pentagon portrait unveiling.
In the speech, Carter specifically praised the Trump administration's support of anti-Russian forces in Ukraine.
"I see you continuing to stand strong against Russia including new moves to enhance the capabilities of Ukrainian forces," he said.
The State Department approved a $41.5 million sale of model M107A1 Sniper System, ammunition, and related accessories to Ukraine in December 2017.
Republican lawmakers praised the sale. Sen. Tom Cotton (R., Ark.) called it "a break from failed Obama-era policies to make Russia pay for its aggression." Sen. John McCain (R., Az.) tweeted that the support was "long-overdue" and would help "the Ukrainian people defend themselves from Russian aggression."
I welcome reports the administration has taken the long-overdue step of approving the sale of lethal defensive weapons to help the Ukrainian people defend themselves from Russian aggression https://t.co/UOHu2EIFpL
— John McCain (@SenJohnMcCain) December 21, 2017
The Obama administration did not follow through on selling weapons to Ukraine when Congress authorized similar sales in the 2014 Ukraine Freedom Support Act.
President Barack Obama had also mocked Mitt Romney during a 2012 presidential debate when the Republican challenger said Russia was the United States' biggest geopolitical foe.
"The 1980's are now calling and asking for their foreign policy back," Obama quipped.
Last year, a former Obama speechwriter admitted Democrats were mistaken in their criticism of Romney over his Russia comments.
Carter served as Obama's last secretary of defense between early 2015 and January 2017. He succeeded Chuck Hagel after Hagel resigned from the position.
The former defense secretary's praise comes as tensions between the United States and Russia continue to rise over a litany of issues, including alleged interference in the 2016 presidential election and the continuing conflict in Syria.