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20 Jul, 2023 08:03

West to shift Ukraine weapons strategy

The US and its allies are setting up repair facilities and translating manuals for foreign hardware, the Pentagon’s acquisition chief says
West to shift Ukraine weapons strategy

The US and its allies are pivoting from delivering more weapons to Ukraine to fixing Western hardware that has already been sent to Kiev and damaged during the conflict with Russia, Politico has reported.

Ukraine has been having problems with maintaining the “international hodgepodge of equipment” provided to it by the US, Germany, UK, Poland and many other countries since the start of the fighting in February 2022, the US news website noted in an article on Wednesday.

The ability to quickly fix the damaged hardware has become even more crucial since the launch of the counteroffensive in early June, which has proven “difficult” for Kiev’s forces and “led to some well-publicized losses of US-made Bradley fighting vehicles and hulking mine-resistant troop carriers, along with some damaged German Leopard tanks,” it said.

The Pentagon’s acquisition and sustainment chief, William LaPlante, told Politico that in order to assist Ukraine, the US and its allies are “setting up repair facilities in Europe, we’re translating [training and repair] manuals, we have to do much more together so there’s going to be more of a focus on that.”

Politico described LaPlante as leading a “22-nation working group, led by the US, Poland and the UK,” tasked with making sure that Western-supplied weapons remain in working order during Ukraine’s conflict with Russia.

“We have regular conversations” with Kiev, the Pentagon official said. “What more do they need? Are there more parts we can send? We’re actually tracking what’s called the availability rate of each one of these systems,” in near real-time.

The group has already assisted Ukraine in setting up a support effort to track over 4,000 supply lines for high-demand spare parts for foreign hardware, according to the report. The US has also translated into Ukrainian over 700 technical manuals for the weapons sent to Kiev, so that local technicians can fix them on the spot.

“We’re making sure that they [the Ukrainians] have everything that they need. And if the parts have to come from a country halfway around the world, we make sure we get it to them. So the sustainment is actually most of the work going on right now,” LaPlante said.

However, at the moment “much of the most serious repair work still needs to be shipped to places such as Poland or Czechia before making the long trip back to Ukraine,” Politico added.

Russia has repeatedly condemned Western arms deliveries to Ukraine, arguing that they will only prolong the fighting, but not prevent Moscow from achieving the goals of its military operation. The Kremlin argues that the provision of weapons, intelligence sharing, and training to Kiev’s troops already means that the US and its allies are de facto parties to the conflict.