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Published in Stream:
Ukraine Live Day 387
Press by
The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
US To Send Ukraine $75 Million In New "Non Lethal" Aid, But What They're Sending Is Interesting
5 years
Report Details Extent Of Russian Military Involvement In Ukraine As NATO Chief Says Forces Continue To Arrive
UPDATED: US Sanctions 8 Pro-Russian Separatists & A Russian Bank Over Russian Deployment of Troops In Ukraine

The United States is still reviewing whether or not it will send lethal aid to Ukraine. Defense One reports:

“We’re still working in the interagency group on reviewing a number of options including lethal defensive weapons, but I can’t give you a timetable on when we might have a decision on additional assistance,” Brian McKeon, the principal deputy under secretary of defense for policy, told members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in a Tuesday hearing.

The senators repeatedly grilled McKeon, Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland and other officials on the delayed decision, but the witnesses gave no new information on the reasons for the delay or when a decision may be made.

We also know that the U.S.'s European allies, particularly Germany, talked the Obama administration out of sending lethal aid to Ukraine last month, as we reported yesterday:

However, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden has told Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko that the U.S. will supply $75 million in new "non lethal" equipment. What's on this list is important. AP reports:

Biden delivered the news in a call to Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko (por-oh-SHEHN'-koh). The aid includes some small Raven drones systems, which can be launched by hand. The U.S. will also send 30 heavily armored Humvees and 200 other regular Humvees, as well as radios, counter-mortar radars and other equipment. All of the aid is nonlethal, and the drones are not armed.

This equipment is non-lethal because it contains no weapons. But Humvees can be equipped with weapons which Ukraine already has. (Ukraine has plenty of weapons in reserve, some of which, like the T-72 main battle tank, use Russian military parts so have not been deployed to the front. Some of those vehicles are likely outfitted with machine guns, for instance, which could be mounted on a Humvee). The drones and ground-scan radar are non-lethal in the sense that they are not weapons, but they are designed to help improve the accuracy and effectiveness of artillery and rockets. Radios may sound trivial, but our sources in various levels of the Ukrainian military and Ministry of Defense have frequently complained that Ukrainian communications equipment was all designed in Russia and thus their communications were easily monitored by the Russian military and Russian-supported forces.

However, many U.S. lawmakers are already angry that much of what the U.S. has promised to Ukraine has not yet reached the country. Foreign Policy reports:

“We have provided some significant defensive systems. We have not answered the entire shopping list,” Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland told visibly frustrated senators at a hearing Tuesday morning. Brian McKeon, the principal deputy undersecretary of defense, said that some of the assistance, which includes radar systems and night-vision goggles, hasn’t been sent to Ukraine because of U.S. logistical or supply chain problems.

The admission infuriated some members of the panel, including its chairman, Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), who accused the Obama administration of playing “footsie with Russia.” Lawmakers asked specifically about an Associated Press report indicating that Obama told German Chancellor Angela Merkel in early February 2015 that he would not send weapons to Ukraine, echoing the European position. Since the meeting with Merkel, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle and officials from within Obama’s own administration have called on the president to answer Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko’s request for guns and other weaponry.

Lawmakers were further incensed by the White House’s failure to meet a Feb. 15 deadline to report on the potential transfer of weapons to Kiev as required by the Ukraine Freedom Support Act, signed by Obama in December 2014. McKeon said there was no timetable for the report’s delivery.

-- James Miller