Washington begins to control its military aid to Ukraine to prevent a black market in US weapons

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For the first time, the US military will be on the ground in Ukraine with the task of carrying out inspections

Washington begins monitoring its military aid to Ukraine to prevent a black market in US weapons


George Chaya

Washington begins monitoring its military aid to Ukraine to prevent a black market in US weapons

FILE PHOTO: A Ukrainian service member stands next to a damaged Russian T-72 BV tank, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, in Donetsk region, Ukraine April 13, 2022. REUTERS/Serhii Nuzhnenko/File Photo

According to a report leaked to the press last Wednesday, President Joe Biden made a decision that was being evaluated but had never been implemented until now. The information was confirmed by the Pentagon and refers to the fact that experts will be sent to Ukraine and for the first time the US military will be on the Ukrainian ground with the task of carrying out inspections of the latest weapons systems sent by Washington to be used in defense operations against Russian air attacks.

The team sent will be the first fully and directly integrated by the US military on Ukrainian soil. So far, the only United States military present in kyivThey are the ones who make up the small special team in charge of the security of the United States Embassy in the Ukrainian capital. However, the Pentagon announced through a statement from the Joint Command that the contingent sent is very small and does not contradict President Biden's promise not to send US troops to fight on the ground. But this week's announcement comes amid growing concern, especially among congressional Republicans, about how effectively Ukrainian forces are using that U.S. military support, especially anti-aircraft defense systems to protect hotspots. and sensitive establishments in the country, especially its infrastructure that provides electrical services.

Last Tuesday, a high-ranking official of the Department of Defensetold the press that the move should not be taken as evidence of a larger commitment or US military involvement related to combat over the theater of operations, but of training the Ukrainian military in the operational use of state-supplied weapons. Joined. However, the official explained that President Biden is aware of the importance of instruction for use as well as the possible risk of some illicit diversion of these weapons systems, for which all available and contributing measures are being carried out to neutralize any attempt to make that happen.

The mission of the military contingent is to instruct Ukrainian military personnel in the use of these defense weapons without directly participating in actions related to the use of said weapons in combat. Pentagon officials have not reported the number of existing military personnel and weapons experts in Ukraine, nor the number of those who will be added from next Tuesday, nor where they will operate.

All the information in this regard was provided by the Pentagon Press Secretary, Brigadier General Pat Ryder, who confirmed to the press that the “special rapid action group whose task is to protect the embassy” it will not participate in any type of front-line action or operation with the team of experts that was sent.”

General Ryder also explained that the evaluation of President Biden's advisors to send military technicians for training in the use of air defense systems had been considered since the first Russian attacks with Iranian drones and is directly related to the preservation of facilities. critical for the provision of electrical services to the Ukrainian people and civilians, so the sending of air defense technicians is related to a humanitarian issue given the need to have electrical services given the arrival of winter and not to offensive military actions, although he did not give details about the number or how long the weapons experts will be in Ukraine.

In relation to this operation, the Republican leader of the House of Representatives -the Californian- Kevin McCarthy, was reluctant to the measure and demanded more information about the sending of the US military to kyiv, demonstrating strongly against the decision of the Pentagon and the order of the president Biden, whom he accused of hidden and improper handling of the Republican majority, saying that his party will not write a blank check to the Democratic administration to make decisions without consultation on Ukraine. Still, McCarthy and other congressional Republicans have made it clear that their party is not seeking to reduce support for Ukraine's fight against Russia, but instead wants to increase proper oversight of aid that is provided.

In the same vein, statements to the Bloomberg agency of the Republican representative -for Texas- Michael McCaul, the most relevant leader within the House Foreign Affairs Committee, ratified the need for a more extensive oversight and asked for explanations of where the weapons go as well as the financing money, something that the American taxpayer deserves and should know.

Washington begins monitoring its military aid to Ukraine to prevent a black market in US weapons

Ukrainian military fire a BM21 Grad multiple launch rocket system in a front line on the border of Kharkiv and Luhansk regions, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, Ukraine November 3, 2022. REUTERS/Vitalii Hnid

The United States has pledged approximately $20 billion in military and security aid to Ukraine since last February, including air defense systems and surface-to-air missiles that have been vital in confronting and countering Russian military might and without which Russia's superiority Kremlin force would have taken highly dangerous advantages for the survival of President Zelensky's forces. In that direction, President Biden promised to extend and maintain his support until the war is won. However, the NBC News network reported this week that Biden was not so forceful on this matter with President Zelensky.during a telephone call between both leaders that occurred at the end of October; which caused concern in the Ukrainian president. According to his advisers, Biden expressed his discomfort at the capture of US weapons systems by Russian forces, hence one of the functions of the military contingent sent by the Pentagon will also be to review the previously provided weapons in order to carry out a damage analysis on that matter.

The pressure from the Republican representatives on the Democratic bloc that affects President Biden refers to the fact that it is clear that wars can provide the opportunity for weapons to fall into private hands through theft or worse, illicit sale; which inexorably generates black markets in weapons that last for decades and that seems to be a real and existing failure in the poor control of weapons sent to Ukraine, which weakens the position of the administration in Washington and has been capitalized on by its political opponents that demand greater control over that aspect, but that also raises questions in US citizenship.

To counteract this risk, the Pentagon must work closely with the Ukrainian military, control existing weapons and investigate their trafficking by adjusting the monitoring of Ukraine's borders with its own men, and this is not to the liking of Vice President Kamala Harris. -known for her pacifist positions- who has already made it known to President Biden, so a principle of disagreement between the two on this point is no longer hidden. Hence, in an attempt to moderate this controversy, a statement from the Department of Defense explained this week that the weapons experts who are already on the ground and those who will arrive in Ukraine will carry out exhaustive inspections as part of the aid in defense of the United States to President Zelensky and his armed forces.

While these issues have come to the surface and without ruling out that they are related to the dispute of the half-time elections; former Defense Department Adviser Jeffrey Pryce told the British BBC that “weapons experts are part of the US assistance and their task is in accordance with the increase in support planned for the months of 2022; At the same time, he expressed his agreement with the control and accountability procedures demanded by republican sectors, pointing out that they help to order and make aid to Ukraine more transparent. Former Councilor Pryce also stated that, personally, he sees no evidence that Ukraine is misusing military aid or selling US weapons. Ukrainians are fighting for their lives and for their country, he stated, I see no evidence of any diversion of the assistance the United States is providing.

However , republican sectors demand to carry out a deep control in this matter since it would be a scandal of proportions that any situation of this nature involves the diversion of US weapons systems to a black market that is suspected of emerging in Eastern Europe and the Middle East.

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