The State Department released a plan Thursday to track weapons deliveries in Ukraine after the U.S. has already delivered $17 billion worth of military equipment since February.
The plan sounds the alarm on the possibility for illicit actors, including Russian forces and non-state criminal actors, acquiring some of the nearly $17 billion in weapons and support equipment the U.S. has donated to help Ukraine fend off Moscow.
Republicans in Congress have provided some of the strongest voices calling for accountability amid warnings the State Department and Department of Defense were not adequately stewarding taxpayer-financed weapons deliveries.
“Pro-Russian forces’ capture of Ukrainian weapons ― including donated material ― has been the main vector of diversion so far and could result in onward transfers,” the plan reads. “Russia probably will also use these weapons to develop countermeasures, propaganda, or to conduct false-flag operations.”
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The plan outlined three phases of end-use monitoring through 2024, which involve strengthening the ability of Ukraine and neighboring states, which serve as transit hubs for weapons deliveries, to safeguard arms and ammunition and reinforce Ukraine’s borders.
Beyond that, the U.S. would step up cooperation efforts with local security and law enforcement bodies to prevent illegal weapons trafficking.
Ukraine’s government has cooperated with the U.S. to ensure U.S.-donated equipment remains squarely within the possession of the Ukrainian military, according to the State Department. However, the document acknowledged the “chaotic nature” of war can frustrate accountability efforts.
Two classes of weapons systems that include the thousands of Stinger and Javelin missiles sent by the U.S. were of particular concern. The U.S. has depleted its stocks in those weapons, fueling worries of a shortage should they be needed to counter other threats.
The plan offered sparse detail on how the action steps would be affected over the coming months and years.
“Conducting [end-use monitoring] in an active war zone such as Ukraine requires different approaches, as the conflict makes it impractical to request the return of equipment from the front lines to depots or other locations where U.S. government personnel can inspect them in a safer environment,” it said.
However, even Republican congress members who favor supporting Ukraine, such as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, have pressured the Biden administration for months to conduct better oversight and transparency measures.
“A Republican majority in the Senate will focus its oversight on ensuring timely delivery of needed weapons and greater allied assistance to Ukraine,” McConnell said in a statement on Oct. 21.
The State Department released its guidance days after allegations from the Kremlin that Kyiv has conspired to ignite a “dirty bomb” — a conventional explosive laced with radioactive material — in Ukraine and portray it as a tactical nuclear weapon attack from Russia, according to Reuters.
However, the U.S. has claimed it does not have evidence that Ukraine in fact is preparing the false flag attack, and Ukrainian officials have likewise denied any such plan exists.