Ukraine asks for weapons meant to fight Taliban – report
Minister of Defense Alexey Reznikov made the request during a visit to Washington last month, according to a report published in Foreign Policy magazine on Monday. He had flown to the US to ask for assistance in a number of military matters, including support for air and naval defense, as well as electronic warfare.
An unnamed Ukrainian defense official reportedly told Foreign Policy that Reznikov’s list of requests featured American military equipment originally earmarked for Afghanistan before the Taliban took over. This is understood to include US-owned Soviet-era Mi-17 helicopters undergoing maintenance in Ukraine, and munitions meant for the Afghan army.
Reznikov made the visit as reports began to spread that Ukrainian and American officials feared a possible Russian invasion of the eastern European country in the near future. In recent weeks, there has been a focus on reported troop movements along the border of the two nations, and American intelligence services have alleged that the threat of an imminent invasion is real.
Russia, however, has denied that it has any intention to launch an all-out war and chalks the reports up to “American misinformation.” Russian president Vladimir Putin is set to speak with his American counterpart Joe Biden in a video call on Tuesday, during which the two leaders will discuss the tensions in Ukraine, as well as other matters.
If Kiev’s requests are granted, it would constitute an unprecedented level of American military support for the nation and could signal Washington’s intention to maintain close military links in the region even at the risk of provoking Russia. Biden, however, has said that if there was an invasion, US and NATO troops would not fight on the side of Ukraine.
Currently, Washington is considering Kiev’s request and has sent military officials to assess the country’s air defense needs. The Pentagon refused to provide further details, but a spokesperson said, “We continue to work closely with Ukraine to evaluate the specific capability requirements of Ukraine’s forces.”
On Monday, Canada’s Chief of Defense Staff responded to Ukraine’s request for 500 Canadian military instructors, saying, “in this case, diplomacy has to lead.”