EXPLAINED: How Ukraine Uses U.S. Military Aid (Think Russia)

September 27, 2019 Topic: Security Blog Brand: The Buzz Tags: RussiaMilitaryTechnologyWorldUkraine

EXPLAINED: How Ukraine Uses U.S. Military Aid (Think Russia)

Ukrainians have the will to fight, that’s clear. Moreover, Ukraine has rebuilt its once dilapidated military into the second-largest standing land army in Europe in terms of manpower. Today, after more than five years of war, Ukraine remains one of the world’s top weapons-exporting nations and is able to meet many of its own defense supply needs.


In December 2017, however, Trump approved a $41.5 million deal for Tennessee-based Barrett Firearms Manufacturing to sell Model M107A1 sniper rifles, ammunition, and accessories to Ukraine. Days later, the Trump administration green-lighted a Javelin weapons package for Ukraine reportedly worth $47 million, comprising 210 anti-tank missiles and 37 launchers.“The news triggered a burst of joy all across the country,” said Ponomarenko, the defense reporter.

In 2018, Ukraine took possession of the U.S. Javelins. The anti-tank weapons have not been deployed to the Donbas battlefield. In fact, Kyiv guaranteed the weapons would remain in storage outside the war zone, and would not be used in the conflict under its current conditions.


Thus, the delivery of U.S. anti-tank weaponry has not affected the overall outcome of the war in the Donbas or given Ukraine the means to repel a full-blown Russian invasion. On the other hand, the Javelins’ delivery did not spur a Russian military escalation, either, as some had feared. 

“It’s politically important that the Russians are deterred by the possibility that Ukraine will get even more lethal weapons [from the U.S.] if Moscow decides to escalate,” Khara said.

Beyond their battlefield utility, the U.S. Javelins are also a potent moral booster for Ukrainian troops, demonstrating American resolve to support Ukraine’s ongoing defensive military campaign.

“Everybody knows that the Javelins are not going to be engaged in combat in Donbas and that this was rather a symbolic, political move from D.C., but I can tell you that it immensely boosted morale in the Ukrainian ranks,” said the Kyiv Post’s Ponomarenko. “It simply showed that we are not alone in this battle, that we still have a powerful friend standing behind us—and that our friend means business by supporting us with exclusively advanced weapons given only to the most trusted allies.”

Nolan Peterson, a former special operations pilot and a combat veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, is The Daily Signal’s foreign correspondent based in Ukraine. Send an email to Nolan.