MSNBC's Katy Tur Responds to News GOP, Trump Admin. Armed Ukrainians: 'I Don't Know'

July 30, 2018

MSNBC host Katy Tur tried to argue Monday that Republicans were opposed to arming Ukraine against Russian-backed separatists, despite the Trump administration signing off on the largest U.S. sale of lethal defensive weapons to Ukraine since 2014.

"At the Republican National Convention, the Republican party decided not to arm Ukraine," Tur said, prompting former Trump campaign aide Sam Nunberg to push back.

"But Ukraine is armed today, Katy. They are armed now," Nunberg said.

Tur appeared confused in response to Nunberg's correction, prompting her say, "I don't know" before thanking her guests for appearing on the show.

The move to approve the sale of lethal defensive weapons to Ukraine was widely supported by President Donald Trump's top national security officials and Republicans in Congress. Congress had authorized such a sale in 2014, but the Obama administration had not approved the export of heavier weapons, according to the Washington Post.

Administration officials confirmed that the State Department this month approved a commercial license authorizing the export of Model M107A1 Sniper Systems, ammunition, and associated parts and accessories to Ukraine, a sale valued at $41.5 million. These weapons address a specific vulnerability of Ukrainian forces fighting a Russian-backed separatist movement in two eastern provinces. There has been no approval to export the heavier weapons the Ukrainian government is asking for, such as Javelin antitank missiles.

Congress authorized such sales in 2014 in the Ukraine Freedom Support Act, but the Obama administration never authorized large commercial or government sales, a move widely seen as a de facto decision not to provide lethal weapons to the Ukraine military. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), who co-sponsored the law, praised the Trump administration’s move.

During the 2016 Republican National Convention, Trump campaign officials decided to amend the Republican platform by changing the language on U.S. assistance to Ukraine. Instead of saying the United States would give them "lethal defensive weapons," they changed the language to say the U.S. would give them "appropriate assistance."