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10 Apr, 2024 03:43

US sending Iranian weapons to Ukraine

Kiev has received rifles and grenade launchers originally headed for Yemen
US sending Iranian weapons to Ukraine

Washington has intercepted and transferred to Kiev thousands of Kalashnikov assault rifles and machine guns, with over half a million rounds of ammunition, as well as grenade launchers and sniper rifles, the US Central Command announced on Tuesday.

The transfer took place on April 4 and included “enough materiel” to equip a single Ukrainian brigade with small arms, CENTCOM said in a post on X (formerly Twitter).

“The US government transferred over 5,000 AK-47s, machine guns, sniper rifles, RPG-7s and over 500,000 rounds of 7.62mm ammunition to the Ukrainian armed forces,” it wrote.

The Pentagon claims that the guns and ammunition were on their way from Iran to the Houthi militia in Yemen, in violation of a UN arms embargo, when they were seized by the US Navy and its allies from several “transiting stateless vessels” off the coast of Yemen between May 2021 and February 2023.

In December, the US government “obtained ownership of these munitions” through the civil forfeiture claims by the Justice Department. Civil asset forfeiture is a practice that allows the US government to seize property suspected of being used in criminal activity, and has long been criticized as de facto theft.

“US CENTCOM is committed to working with our allies and partners to counter the flow of Iranian lethal aid in the region by all lawful means,” it claimed, insisting that Tehran’s “support for armed groups threatens international and regional security.”

The announcement came amid uncertainty over further US funding of Ukraine’s war effort. President Joe Biden has been urging Congress for months to approve his aid package which would earmark $60 billion for Ukraine. Many Republicans have opposed the measure, demanding more efforts to strengthen US border security, while seeking more accountability for the aid already transferred to Kiev. 

The US has provided Ukraine with $113 billion in various forms of assistance since the start of hostilities. Russia has repeatedly condemned Western arms shipments to Ukraine, saying these will only prolong the conflict, while making the West a direct participant in the hostilities.

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