US to sell Ukraine combat drones – Reuters
The White House plans to sell Kiev four MQ-1C Gray Eagle combat drones, Reuters reported on Wednesday, citing three people familiar with the matter.
US President Joe Biden intends to notify Congress of the potential sale “in the coming days,” the report said.
The Gray Eagle is the US Army’s newer version of the MQ-1 Predator attack drone, which has been widely used for airstrikes in the Middle East.
The unmanned aircraft can fly for 40-plus hours and be equipped with up to eight Hellfire missiles.
According to Reuters, the sale could still be blocked by Congress or canceled by the White House. The plan has been under review at the Pentagon for several weeks, the report said.
A White House spokesperson referred Reuters’ request for comment to the Pentagon, whose spokesperson told the news agency that there was “nothing to announce.”
Last month, Biden authorized $40 billion worth of military and other aid to Ukraine amid Russia’s military campaign against the neighboring country. Washington previously vowed to supply Kiev with Switchblade anti-armor kamikaze drones and Puma surveillance drones. Ukraine, meanwhile, has been using Turkish-made Bayraktar TB2 attack UAVs on the battlefield.
On Wednesday, Biden confirmed that Washington will be sending HIMARS multiple rocket launchers to Ukraine as part of the latest “security assistance package.”
Moscow has warned that any foreign-made weapon system will be treated as a legitimate target once it enters Ukrainian territory. Russia also accused the West of “flooding” Ukraine with arms.
Russia attacked Ukraine in late February, following Kiev’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, first signed in 2014, and Moscow’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The German- and French-brokered protocols were designed to give the breakaway regions special status within the Ukrainian state.
The Kremlin has since demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.