More than 50 cargo planes carrying arms and other military gear from the US, Britain, Canada, Poland, and Lithuania landed in Ukraine ahead of the Russian military operation in the country, Russia’s Foreign Ministry has revealed, warning about the potential fallout of the US-led effort.
Some 2,000 tons of advanced weaponry, ammunition, and protective equipment were supplied to Ukraine in the first month and a half of 2022, the ministry added as cited in a Sputnik report on Saturday, further pointing out that Britain, alone shipped more than 2,000 units of anti-tank weaponry.
The report also cited the ministry’s spokeswoman Maria Zakharova as saying that Moscow had once again urged the European Union and the US-led NATO military alliance to halt the “mindless pumping” of modern armaments to the Kiev regime, insisting that the effort poses great risks to civilian aviation and other transport systems in Europe and beyond.
“The organizers of these deliveries must realize the growing threat of these high-precision weapons falling into the hands of terrorist elements and bandit formations not only in Ukraine, but also in Europe as a whole,” Zakharova underlined.
“The flow of these weapons into illegal markets and into the hands of terrorist networks is only a matter of time. [Shoulder-fired] MANPADS (Man Portable Air-Defense Systems) pose a huge danger to civil aviation, and ATGMs (Anti-Tank Guided Missiles) to railway transport and infrastructure,” she further warned.
This is while the US-based Washington Post daily also reported Saturday that the American military had been shipping hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of military hardware to Ukraine since December 2021 – months prior to the start of Russia’s special military operation in the neighboring country.
Moreover, Moscow had repeatedly cautioned Western governments against the shipment of advanced armaments to Ukraine, arguing that it would embolden Kiev to try to resolve the conflict in the eastern Donbass region through the use of its military forces.
Global arms pipeline into Ukraine led by US European Command
Meanwhile, the US military’s European Command has become the organizer of a global coalition of governments shipping weapons and security gadgets, the US-based Military.com news outlet further reported on Friday.
“The command, based in Germany under Air Force Gen. Tod Wolters, is coordinating shipments to the war zone from 14 countries,” the report said, noting that the arms shipments include the latest $350 million in aid from the US, as well as newly pledged support from Germany and Sweden.
It further cited “a senior US defense official” as claiming that “Ukrainians are already well-trained on equipment such as anti-tank weapons and had been able to distribute the aid where needed on the front lines as of Friday.”
“I think all of us have been tremendously impressed by how effectively the Ukrainian armed forces have been using the equipment that we’ve provided them,” the unnamed military official added as quoted in the report. “And I think Kremlin watchers have also been surprised by this, at how they have slowed the Russian advance and performed extremely well on the battlefield.”
According to the report, the US-led military shipments have included Javelin guided anti-tank missiles, and shoulder-fired Stinger air defense missiles “to take out Russian piloted aircraft or drones.”
It also emphasized that the US European Command has “tapped into a liaison officer network among allies and partner nations to coordinate support to [Ukraine’s President Volodymyr] Zelensky.”
The US and NATO have bolstered forces along the alliance’s eastern European flank, including Poland, Romania and the Baltic states, but have made clear that they will not intervene militarily in the conflict, the report noted.
“They are leveraging that [network] to build this coordination cell to be able to have real-time understanding of what allies are prepared to provide and how they might be able to get it to Ukraine, and common understanding of the Ukrainian requirements,” said the US military official who spoke to reporters on the condition of anonymity.
The command, according to the report, “is working specifically with the UK on how to deliver the weapons across borders and into a conflict that has raised the specter of Russia using its nuclear arsenal, after Putin ordered those forces on alert Sunday.”
The US has declined to provide many details about the specific amounts of weapons and security aid or how it is getting into Ukraine, due to concerns it could be useful to the Russians on the battlefield.
Meanwhile, there has been no indication that Russia has tried to disrupt the US-led flow of arms into Ukraine, despite its public condemnation of the move, and the speed of deliveries was being ratcheted up significantly, the US official further explained.
US, allies rush tons of arms, ammunition to Ukraine: NY Times
Further confirming the Western flow of arms to Ukraine, The New York Times also reported Saturday that about 14 wide-bodied military transport aircraft flew tons of ammunition and weapons – including Javelin antitank missiles, rocket launchers and guns — to an airfield near the Ukrainian border on Friday to bolster the country’s army as Russian forces closed in on its capital, Kiev.
According to the daily, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley inspected the weapons transfer during an unannounced visit to the unidentified airfield.
The influential daily further reported that the military supplies will be delivered by land to Ukraine for distribution to “Ukrainian fighters” as soon as possible, noting that troops and personnel from 22 countries were working around the clock to unload the supplies for movement into Ukraine.
It added that the weapons were part of a $350 million package that US President Joe Biden had authorized last week. The deliveries began earlier in the week but accelerated on Friday as Russian forces gained ground across Ukraine amid Western claims that strong resistance waged by Kiev’s military had stalled Russia’s advance.
Russia launched a special military operation in Ukraine on 24 February after Kiev failed to implement the Minsk agreements and resolve the conflict in Donbass peacefully. President Vladimir Putin said that Russia was left with no other choice but to act after weeks of shelling of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics (DPR and LPR) by Ukrainian forces. He thus ordered Russian forces to demilitarize Ukraine.