Nothing personal - just business: US already supplies arms to Ukraine

Author : Pavlo Horin

Source :

Until the end of the week, US President Donald Trump should sign a new defense law, which provides $ 50 million to grant Ukraine lethal defensive weapons. Kyiv, for its part, continues to hope that the Pentagon will use these funds for its intended purpose, and Ukraine will finally get access to modern weapons of the United States.
21:53, 27 November 2017

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In this issue, some American politicians and ex-diplomats continue to put pressure on Trump. And this week, the American Heritage Foundation, which several observers and the media call the think-tank of the presidential administration, also called for arming Ukraine. There are no problems in the fact that the Americans will supply weapons to Ukraine. The States are already selling it to Ukraine, and this was officially confirmed this week by the director of AirTronic USA (Texas, USA) Richard Vandiver. In addition, some American publications have pointed out that Trump absolutely does not mind supplying us with modern American weapons, but under the condition that Kyiv will pay for it.

Official Kyiv likes to say that Ukraine has been unsuccessfully negotiating with the United States on the supply of lethal weapons since the beginning of Russia's military aggression in the spring of 2014. But this week it became known that the Americans are already supplying it to us, without experiencing any special obstacles.

Grenade launchers for Ukraine

As correspondents of "Voice of America" found out, the company from Texas AirTronic USA, having obtained a license, sells to Ukraine grenade launchers PSRL - an improved version of the Soviet RPG-7 created in the USA.

Director of the company Richard Vandiver says that he began cooperation with Ukraine two years ago, and the first deliveries of grenade launchers went to Ukraine in 2016.

About the signing of an agreement with the AirTronic USA to purchase 100 PSRL-1 grenade launchers for $ 554.5 thousand it became known in August this year. Then the French newspaper AgoraVox reported that from the leakage of documents they became aware of the signing of the relevant treaty on November 11, 2016 by the Obama administration. Then the editor of Censor.NET Yuri Butusov wrote on his Facebook page that American lethal weapons are already in Ukraine. In addition to the hand-grenade launchers PSRL-1, which went into service in the Azov regiment, the government of Ukraine also purchased from the Americans sniper rifles Barrett M82of the caliber of 12.7 mm. At the same time, AgoraVox and Butusov argued that the Americans went to these deals in spite of the current ban on the supply of lethal weapons to Ukraine. The same version was also picked up by the Russian media, not missing the opportunity to blame Washington for violations.

But what about prohibitions?

In reality, there are no official bans on the supply of weapons to Ukraine. And the work of AirTronic USA in the Ukrainian market is a proof of this.

In the world practice there should be some legal grounds for such a ban - sanctions or embargoes. And there are none of them in Ukraine.

Europe introduced similar restrictions in early 2014, concerning the sale of weapons and special technical equipment that could be used to suppress riots, to Kyiv. The ban was lifted in July of the same year.

Republican congressman Chris Smith in March 2015 announced the actual imposition of an arms embargo on Ukraine from the side of the Obama administration. But these were nothing more than political statements that have no legal basis.

The only western country that cannot yet supply Ukraine with weapons is Canada, where exists the so-called Automatic Firearms Country Control List - a list of countries which the Canadian authorities allow their producers to supply weapons to. But the country is already working to abolish the current ban, which will be the next step after the signing of the defense cooperation agreement between the countries, which was held in April this year.

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In addition, according to Vandiver, the clear cooperation and coordination on the issue of weapons supply to Ukraine is established for more than a year between the key American structures and the Ukrainian government. "We began to deliver our goods to Ukraine last year and continue to deliver to this day." I cannot talk about the details of how and what we do, but I can say that we are in very close coordination with the US embassy, with The State Department, the Pentagon and the Ukrainian government. Our systems are sent under DDTC DSP-5 export license of the US Department of State," says Vandiver.

Can others do this?

Consequently, any American arms manufacturer, subject to all necessary procedures and requirements, may supply to Ukraine military goods controlled by the US Munitions List or dual-use goods, the list of which is determined by the US Commercial Control List. For advice or an appropriate license, the exporter should contact the Bureau of Industry and Security of the US Department of Commerce (for goods included in the Trade Control List) or the Directorate of Defense Trade of the US Department of State (for goods included in the US Arms List). In the case of AirTronic USA, the DSP-5 license was issued by the Directorate of Defense Trade of the US Department of State for the permanent export of goods of unclassified defense.

Moreover, Ukraine itself successfully supplies arms to the US.

So, according to the State Export Control Service in 2014, Ukraine supplied 10166 rifles and carbines to the USA; in 2015 - 10,000 rifles and carbines, 89 portable anti-tank rifles and grenade launchers, 3 MANPADS and 226 missiles to them; in 2016 - 25 ATGM "Fagot" and 60 rounds to them.

Consequently, there are no obstacles in the issue of military-technical cooperation between Kyiv and Washington. But Kyiv in its official speeches continues to insist that the negotiations are unsuccessful.

And then what does Kyiv ask?

The fact is that the leadership of our country, first of all, is interested in free military assistance, which implies interstate donor assistance for military needs in the form of financial flows, support in training the army or supplying military equipment. And in this issue, Europe and the States, above all, are guided by the rules of ethics and the code of resolving military and political issues. And these rules are dictated, first of all, by the second Minsk agreement, where the parties came to a common opinion on the issue of de-escalation of the armed conflict in the east of Ukraine.

But Richard Vandiver pointed out that this is not an obstacle either. According to him, it was difficult for a private arms producer to obtain a license for the export of military products. "To get the permission that we needed, it took time because of the delicacy of the topic during the Minsk-2 negotiations, but these systems (PSRL-1, - Ed.) do not contradict the Minsk-2 agreement. Nevertheless, we had to undergo a series of technical and bureaucratic obstacles in order to obtain an export license. We passed this process of filling out the documents," he clarified. The main condition for the deal, he said, was only a ban on Ukraine to resell US arms. "The agreement is updated annually, it depends on the needs of Ukraine. Now it is not limited by time ... PSRL is a deadly weapon, but it is a defensive weapon. This is not some serious missile installations. They (grenade launchers) have an effective range of 1000 m. While this weapon will remain on the Ukrainian section of the border, it is not an offensive weapon, but if some troops begin to cross the border, then the Ukrainian defense forces could use our defensive systems to stop the offensive ", - he explained.

Do we really need these PSRLs?

Other question is - whether the contract on PSRL-1 is necessary for us now? And taking into account that the annual supply of such weapon to Ukraine is still only 100 units.

Yuri Butusov is convinced that the PSRL-1 grenade launcher is an American modification of the Soviet RPG-7 grenade launcher that is in service for a long time in Ukraine. Ukrainian Armed Forces need it because it has more convenient ergonomics, is made using composite materials and has an altered nozzle shape, which provides an increase in the characteristics of weapons.

Nevertheless, in April 2017, the Mayak plant, part of the Ukroboronprom, presented prototypes of the RPG-M7 anti-tank grenade launcher, which somewhat differs from the base model developed in the 1950s by the Moscow GSKB-47 (now the SNGP Basalt "). So, the new model lacks a barrel handle, and the handle of the trigger is replaced with a more ergonomic one.

Accordingly, the question arises, why should we buy weapons from the Americans, if in Ukraine we began to establish our own production?

But Butusov sees the political success of Kyiv in this deal. He argues that "it is difficult to overestimate the political significance of this step, this is an important advance, such deals bring closer the long-awaited and necessary decision of the US government to provide lethal weapons to Ukraine within the framework of US military assistance programs."

His point of view is supported by the Ambassador of Ukraine to the United States Valery Chaly. "Creating the conditions for establishing such cooperation is what we are doing. At one time, we brought the company AirTronic USA closer to our Ukroboronprom, and they further developed this cooperation. Also we expect that the bill for the provision of lethal military weapon to Ukraine, passed through the House of Representatives and the Senate, will be signed by President Trump, and that up to $ 0 million will be spent on lethal defensive weapons."

What about Javelins?

Indeed, until the end of the week Trump should sign a new defense budget on providing $ 350 million for military assistance to Ukraine, of which the Pentagon can spend up to $ 50 million on deliveries of lethal defensive weapons.

The most urgent issue for Ukraine today is the provision of US Javelin Command launching complexes, the expediency of supply of which has been disputed in Washington for more than six months. The most likely scheme of supply is the allocation of a grant package of $ 47 million to the government of Ukraine. Relevant recommendations for the Trump Administration on the financing and sale of anti-tank missiles to the Ukrainian government have been developed by the US National Security Council. But considering that the cost of one Javelin missile when buying from the US Defense Ministry is at least $ 100,000, and the cost of the launcher is $ 130,000, Ukraine will be able to get on average only 200 launching complexes and 200 units of ammunition. This will take place despite the fact that Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in an interview with The Wall Street Journal said that Ukraine needed 1,240 anti-tank missile systems Javelin to deter Russian aggression.

Some experts in general doubt that Trump will agree to arm Ukraine. For example, Michael Carpenter, a former employee of the US Presidential Administration for Ukraine and Russia, believes that "... 50 million for Ukraine is a good amount; this is more than last year sum. I hope that this amount will be is approved because Ukraine needs help. But the Congress decision to provide defensive weapons does not matter, because in our system the executive is the only authority that decides which weapons to provide. In the formal sense, there is no embargo, but actually it is. The former administration has decided not to send weapons, although formally the administration did not make any decision. This position has become an actual embargo ... It is important whether Ukraine will receive weapons or not. Unfortunately, yet it not happened .. I hope this will change, but I'm a pessimist on this issue."

BuzzFeed author, John Hudson, writes that his sources in the White House report the presence of indisputable arguments of a number of American officials (including Defense Secretary James Mattis, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and State Department Special Representative for Ukraine Kurt Volker) that they believe can convince President Trump to approve the provision of weapons to Ukraine, including powerful anti-tank missile systems Javelin. "Officials believe that the key argument that will convince Trump is to make Ukraine pay for at least a portion of the weapons and equipment provided and to position the delivery of these weapons as a step toward peace in the four-year conflict between Kyiv and Russia-backed separatists," Hudson writes.

The fact that Trump is ready to work for "cash" is evidenced by the fact that on November 21 it became known about the intentions of the Georgian government to purchase from the Americans 410 Javelin missiles and 72 Javelin Command (CLU) missiles for $ 75 million from their own funds. And this delivery has already been approved by the US Department of State, and Congress is notified about this.

This transaction once again confirms that Americans will satisfy every your whim for money.

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