Monday, December 16, 2019

Impeachment inquiry: Why Ukraine needs US military assistance

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Hailey Warner
Hailey Warner
Hailey isn't the biggest fan of Winter, but she's doing her best to embrace the cold weather and snow. You can find her trying out new recipes, playing squash or writing editorials.

The American military assistance to Ukraine is at the center of the impeachment inquiry against Donald Trump. The Democrats accuse the president of having made their pay-out conditional on Ukraine taking up investigations against Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son Hunter. Former European Union ambassador Gordon Sondland reaffirmed this accusation on Wednesday before the congress: “There was a quid pro quo”.

Military aid has long been a foregone conclusion: In the spring, outgoing Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko publicly expressed his gratitude to the Americans for the aid package.

The fact that Trump stopped the payment in July at the last moment surprised both countries. In September, he released the payment. But the temporary cessation of aid by Trump was a major setback for Ukraine, which has directly affected the Russian military power in the Crimea and the Donbass.

“Temporary cessation of aid by Trump was a major setback for Ukraine, which has directly affected the Russian military power in the Crimea and the Donbass”

According to a report from the Congressional Research Service, the US supported Kiev with some $1.5 billion between 2014 and June this year.

The current case of military aid is about a new aid package totaling nearly $400 million. In addition, the second sale of anti-tank missiles of the type “Javelin” to Ukraine is planned.

However, according to the American portal Justsecurity, which bundles all documents of the Trump-Ukraine affair, it is not part of the actual package. Since October, one can read on the website of the US Security Cooperation, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has just approved a “possible sale of 150 Javelin missiles and related equipment” for a maximum of $39.2 million.

The sale will “contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by improving the security of Ukraine”, it says. However, that communication does not mean.

“Javelins were apparently supplied with the condition that they should not be used on the demarcation line to the occupied territories in eastern Ukraine”

The first “Javelin” delivery with 210 antitank missiles – the only larger-caliber weapons that United States (and the West) sold Kiev so far – arrived in Ukraine in 2018. In addition, the “Javelins” were apparently supplied with the condition that they should not be used on the demarcation line to the occupied territories in eastern Ukraine – presumably to prevent Russia from upgrading these areas even more.

It will be kept in reserve “in the event of a major tank attack,” as Viktor Muzhenko, Kiev’s Chief of General Staff from 2014 to 2019, said. So far, not one of the missiles has been fired. It seems they have done their job of deterring – contrary to the prophecy of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov the rocket delivery will lead to “new bloodshed”.

By the American military aid, Ukraine has succeeded in significantly strengthening its ailing, barely actionable army since 2014. Today, the country’s armed forces comprise 200,000 soldiers and 850 tanks.

Five years ago, when Russian-speaking soldiers without insignia, later ironically called “green males”, occupied the Crimea in March 2014, Western partners Kiev discreetly stated that nobody would militarily support the country. They advised not to fight back. However, until the fighting in Donbass in the summer of 2014, the army had reorganized and was also supported by volunteer organizations.

“In 1994 United States and Russia pledged to defend Ukraine’s sovereignty  under Budapest Memorandum”

The then elected leadership under President Petro Poroshenko also introduced the previously abolished conscription again. In the autumn of 2014, at a height of fighting, Poroshenko addressed the Congress in Washington, reminding that in 1994 United States  and Russia pledged to defend Ukraine’s sovereignty (Budapest Memorandum).

The Ukrainian president urged United States to give his country the highest possible status of strategic partner outside NATO and to provide weapons. With “night vision devices and blankets” you can neither win a war nor preserve peace. Republicans and democrats celebrated Poroshenko, who dared to oppose Putin, with a standing ovation.

After 2015, Ukraine’s fight against Russian and pro-Russian fighters continued in the East. Gradually, in many states, the view prevailed that it was not only morally necessary but also useful to support the attacked country.

“Republicans and democrats celebrated Poroshenko, who dared to oppose Putin, with a standing ovation”

The list of bilateral or NATO-sponsored aid presented by General Muzhenko to the German newspaper is long. Among them are about two used, 34 meters long, lightly armed patrol boats of the “Iceland” class, built in 1988. Only in mid-November this year, the boats have been taken after a good two-week crossing across the Atlantic Ocean in Odessa, Ukraine in service. It obviously took four years to overcome the bureaucratic hurdles on the Ukrainian side for this gift.

According to General Muzhenko, the United States also allowed the establishment of a troop operation center in Kiev for $25 million. To this end, America supported Ukraine with at least thirty artillery tracking radars, “hundreds” radio stations for the troop’s communication, and “dozens” of reconnaissance drones, “2015, 2016, when we did not have our own threats”, plus about 300 jeeps. From America and Canada were also “dozens” sniper rifles come as well as two American detection systems to combat enemy sniper for $200,000.

At the combat training center in Yavoriv near Lviv, trainers from NATO countries conduct training for the Ukrainian army. “Tens of thousands of our soldiers have now undergone such training, but the British have so far trained about 15,000 men,” says Muzhenko.

London has just announced that it will extend its training mission until 2023. America’s share of total aid in technology and training is estimated at between 70 and almost 90 percent, depending on the source. According to Muzhenko, artillery positioning systems were the most important in military aid. He refers to his front-run experience in 2014. Muzhenko says: “The systems have warned many soldiers against shelling and saved their lives at the last moment”.

Read also: Gordon Sondland raises serious charges against Trump

Hailey Warner
Hailey Warner
Hailey isn't the biggest fan of Winter, but she's doing her best to embrace the cold weather and snow. You can find her trying out new recipes, playing squash or writing editorials.

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