How the US supports Ukraine


Status: 01/20/2022 07:58 a.m

US Secretary of State Blinken is traveling through Europe because of the Ukraine conflict – and is bringing money with him. However, it remains unclear whether the billions in aid for Kiev can prevent an invasion of Russian troops.

By Torsten Teichmann, ARD Studio Washington

Secretary of State Anthony Blinken did not arrive in Europe empty-handed this week. The US government approved an aid package for Ukraine last December. It consists of US$200 million worth of military assistance.

In Washington it is not known at the moment which weapons or equipment this commitment will contain. But Ukraine has repeatedly asked for more support, such as additional anti-tank missiles.

The package was put together in December, but the US government initially held it back. The NBC television channel reported at the time that the administration wanted to give diplomacy more time, i.e. talks with Russia.

Just a fraction of the previous support

According to the United States, since then the danger has increased that Russian soldiers will invade Ukraine again. That is why the aid package is now approved.

The $200 million is just a fraction of what the United States has provided in military assistance to Ukraine since 2014. According to its own statements, Washington has spent a total of 2.5 billion US dollars on military equipment and the training of soldiers since Russia’s attack on Ukraine – which soon killed 14,000 people and the annexation of Crimea.

Germany refuses arms deliveries

Not all US allies agree with the policy. During her visit to Washington in early January, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said she wanted to make it very clear once again that Germany has a different stance on military support for Ukraine.

The Germans refuse arms deliveries and warn of an escalation of the conflict with Russia. Baerbock added that Germany had supported Ukraine in building a military hospital.

In Washington she can hardly score with it. Following the video conference between Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Joe Biden in early December, Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, said that in the event of a Russian invasion of Ukraine, the US would provide additional military assistance well beyond what has been provided so far have.

First, the US relied on diplomacy and sanctions

However, the US government’s stance on the issue was not always so clear. When Russia invaded eastern Ukraine in February 2014, then-President Barack Obama initially relied on diplomacy and sanctions.

US military support to the Ukrainian military was limited to equipment. It was about gas masks and radar systems to detect missiles from the Russian side earlier. Obama argued that no amount of armament would put the Ukrainians on par with the military strength of the Russians.

A year later, the first of a total of 230 promised Humvees, some of them armored, arrived in the Ukraine, i.e. all-terrain military vehicles. Washington initially approved $120 million in defense aid.

Basic training for soldiers

Another 75 million for drones, night vision devices, radar systems and medical equipment were promised. The US military also began organizing basic training for soldiers – albeit in western Ukraine, far from the front line and the border with Russia.

Republicans in the US Congress demanded more. The late Senator John McCain argued that the Ukrainians were being “slaughtered” and the West was sending blankets and food. Blankets don’t help against Russian tanks, McCain added.

Military package under Trump linked to interests

Military aid to Ukraine finally got caught up in domestic politics under Republican President Donald Trump. It is true that Kiev could now also buy offensive weapons such as anti-tank missiles and launchers in Washington. But US Democrats in 2020 took it for granted that President Trump had attempted to tie another $400 million military package to Ukraine to private interests.

The accusation: Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyj in a phone call to investigate relationships between his potential opponent in the next presidential campaign, Joe Biden, and his son Hunter as a favour. The Senate ultimately declined to convict and impeach the President.

Worry about an unintended war

The USA put together further aid packages and delivered further anti-tank missiles, again under the condition that the weapons may only be stored in western Ukraine, i.e. outside the conflict area. The aim seemed to be to avoid further escalating existing tensions with Russia.

Under US President Biden, according to his information, support worth 600 million US dollars was added. For example for Coast Guard boats, other Humvees, handguns and ammunition. According to the television channel CNN, Ukraine is still waiting for four promised radar units.

At the press conference marking his first year in office, US President Biden warned that he hopes Russian President Putin understands that without full-blown nuclear war, he is not in a very good position to rule the world. Biden said he was worried about an unintended war.

Danger that one side miscalculates

The US President assumes that Putin will attack Ukraine in some form. He’s not alone in Washington.

But that would mean that the entire $2.5 billion arms build has failed in its aim of deterring Russia’s president. And it is currently not clear at what point Russia and the USA will find a way out of the confrontation. The danger that one side miscalculates is great.

US report: Russia has moved more troops to Ukraine

Torsten Teichmann, ARD Washington, January 15, 2022 5:55 a.m

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