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​​Ashton Carter testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee during his nomination hearing to be the next Secretary of Defense on Feb. 4, 2015. Screen shot photo.

Ashton Carter, President Obama’s nominee for Secretary of Defense, indicated Tuesday he would push for the US to provide weapons to the Ukrainian government, which is battling Russian separatists. During his nomination hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Carter said he would be “very much inclined” to supply Ukraine with “lethal arms” considering the state of the country’s security challenges (the Obama Administration currently restricts aid to non-​lethal supplies). In questioning over his position from Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), Carter noted he was present for the signing of the so-called “Budapest Memorandum” in 1994, during his time as assistant secretary of defense for international security policy in the Clinton Administration. The agreement, which provided security guarantees to Ukraine in exchange for the country giving up its Soviet-era nuclear weapons, dictated for Russia to respect Ukraine’s territorial integrity, Carter told SASC. The US signed the agreement to ensure Ukraine’s ability to “find its way as an independent country,” and today this principle is at stake, he noted.