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7 Dec, 2023 19:56

US to back Ukrainian weapons ‘transition’ – White House

Washington has announced a push to bolster Kiev’s domestic military-industrial complex
US to back Ukrainian weapons ‘transition’ – White House

The US government has set up an interagency “deal team” and will appoint a special adviser to Ukraine’s Ministry of Strategic Industries to help increase weapons production and counter corruption, the White House announced on Wednesday.

The announcement came after the first day of the ‘US-Ukraine Defense Industrial Base Conference’ in Washington, which gathered over 300 government and industry representatives with the goal of “significantly increasing” the production of weapons and ammunition inside Ukraine.

The State Department will send a congressionally-approved adviser to Kiev to “support and accelerate Ukraine’s transition to an interoperable military force, combat corruption, and attract foreign investment in critical industries,” the White House said.

Defense, Commerce and State Department officials already on the ‘Ukraine Deal Team’ will “support industry, Ukrainian, and other partners” with “guidance” on potential deals and export requirements for Kiev’s military industry.

The term “interoperable” has traditionally been used to denote a military using former Soviet equipment and doctrine ‘transitioning’ to NATO standards. Over the past 20 months, the US and its allies have sought to replace Ukraine’s battlefield losses with Western weapons and equipment, with each new system being hailed as a potential “game changer” in the conflict with Russia.

According to the White House, the Pentagon and the US military industry have already provided Ukraine technical data to “start local production of some of the FrankenSAM projects,” referring to the practice of using Western munitions in Soviet-designed air defense systems.

The initiative comes as President Joe Biden’s request to send more than $60 billion in additional funding to Kiev appears to be stalled in Congress. On Wednesday, the Senate failed to advance the bill because Republicans objected to US-Mexico border provisions that Democrats bundled with military aid to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan.

Meanwhile, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry representatives at the conference have circulated a “comprehensive” list of items they would like the US and its allied to send them for free, including F-18 fighter jets, C-130J Super Hercules transport planes, helicopter gunships, and Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) air defense systems.