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US sending advanced weapons to Ukraine

By HENG WEILI in New York | | Updated: 2022-03-02 12:03
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Photo taken on Feb 27, 2022 shows smoke rising in the sky in Kyiv, Ukraine. [Photo/Xinhua]

The United States is sending advanced weapons and other arms to Ukraine amid its conflict with Russia, but the effort is not without logistical challenges.

The push to provide the weapons is "complicated by limited supply lines, a potentially small window to save Kyiv from collapse and a Cold War legacy that made Western small arms ammunition incompatible with those produced in the Eastern Bloc", The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.

A senior US defense official, however, said, "We believe it is getting into the right hands, that they are actively using these systems," the Journal reported.

On Tuesday, in a speech delivered via video to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accused the West of anti-Russian "hysteria".

Lavrov said "it was and still is the aim of the US and all its allies built by Washington to create an 'anti-Russia'".

The diplomat said he had planned to attend the session in person but bans on flights by European countries from Russia had prevented him from traveling to Switzerland.

During the speech, in which more than 100 mostly Western diplomats walked out, Lavrov also said that the United States should remove its nuclear weapons from Europe.

On Friday, the White House approved a direct delivery of Stinger missiles to Ukraine. The Stingers are highly accurate and are used to shoot down helicopters and other aircraft.

They are made by Tucson, Arizona-based Raytheon Missiles & Defense, a subsidiary of Raytheon Technologies Corp, based in Massachusetts. Each missile has an estimated cost of about $117,000.

"The Stinger-Reprogrammable Microprocessor, or RMP, missile has … supersonic speed, agility and a highly accurate guidance and control system (that) give the weapon an operational edge against cruise missiles and all classes of aircraft. The system is also used on Apache helicopters for air-to-air engagements," the Raytheon website says.

US President Joe Biden, who was scheduled to deliver his first State of the Union address Tuesday night,  on Saturday authorized the State Department to send $350 million in weapons to Ukraine.

In an excerpt of the speech released by the White House, Biden says: "He (Putin) thought the West and NATO wouldn't respond."

The $350 million includes Javelin anti-tank weapons.

"Javelin is probably quite effective against most Russian armored vehicles, and it is probably more capable against heavy armor (like tanks) than any other missile system available to Ukraine that can be carried by an individual soldier," Scott Boston, a senior defense analyst at RAND Corp, told Euronews Next.

The Javelin is produced jointly by Raytheon and Lockheed Martin, based in Bethesda, Maryland. Each Javelin missile costs about $175,000, according to the Pentagon's 2021 fiscal year budget.

"These weapons will be extremely useful even if Russian forces are able to seize cities like Kyiv, and Ukrainian forces shift to insurgent operations," Seth Jones, director of the international security program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told USA Today.

Jones said there is some risk that using US and other Western arms against Russian soldiers could escalate the war. He noted that the US provided weapons to insurgents in Afghanistan, who used them against Soviet troops after they invaded in 1979. 

The Russians supplied limited arms to the Taliban to use against US troops in Afghanistan, and Iran supplied Shiite insurgent groups with weapons to attack US troops in Iraq, according to Jones.

On Monday evening, Ukraine's ambassador to the US told senators her country needs more weaponry. Senators emerged from a meeting with Ambassador Oksana Markarova at the Capitol as Congress prepares supplemental funding for Ukraine. The White House is seeking at least $6.4 billion in military and humanitarian aid.

"They need more arms," said Senator Mark Warner, a Virginia Democrat and chairman of the Intelligence Committee.

"They've got the weapons they need right now, but they're going to run out of what they need soon, so we've got to get a supplemental (spending bill) passed quickly," Senator Chris Murphy, a Connecticut Democrat, said after the meeting.

"It's David versus Goliath," said Senator Jim Risch of Idaho, the top Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee. "I think that any human being reading the reports coming out of there realize that this is dire."

On Friday, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said, "we're very actively engaged in those efforts to help them better defend themselves through both lethal and non-lethal assistance".

"The airspace over Ukraine is contested; the Russians don't have superiority of it," Kirby said.

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin told House lawmakers that the US is considering ways to train Ukrainian soldiers remotely if Russia seizes Ukraine, Axios reported.

The Associated Press contributed to this story. 

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