After over eight months of pouring tens of billions of dollars worth of weapons into Ukraine, the Biden administration has announced some steps it will take toward oversight of the military aid.
The State Department announced the plan on October 27. It focuses on keeping powerful portable weapons like Javelin anti-tank missiles and Stinger anti-aircraft missiles off the black market. Responsible Statecraft reported that experts are warning the plan has gaps and doesn’t address the issue of smaller arms.
The State Department said in order to achieve its oversight goals, the US will bolster the ability of Ukraine and other regional countries “to account for and safeguard their arms and ammunition,” strengthen borders, and bolster security agencies to “deter, detect, and interdict illicit trafficking of certain advanced conventional weapons.”
Another aspect of the effort is in-person inspections of US weapons inside Ukraine that are being conducted by the US military. The Pentagon revealed on Monday that its personnel has begun conducting these inspections inside the country, marking the first official confirmation of a US military presence on the ground in Ukraine since Russia invaded on February 24.
The Pentagon did not provide much detail on where the inspections are taking place but said they are being conducted by personnel based at the US Embassy in Kyiv. Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder told reporters on Tuesday that there are US Marines at the embassy conducting guard duties on top of the weapons inspectors.
Ryder also said that the inspectors will not be near the “front lines.” According to media reports, US special operations forces and CIA operatives are also on the ground in Ukraine, but the covert operations have not been officially confirmed by Washington. President Biden had repeatedly said he wouldn’t send troops into Ukraine, which he said before Russia’s invasion could spark a “world war.”
Up to this point, there has been virtually no oversight of the billions in weapons being sent to Ukraine. Finnish law enforcement said earlier this week that they have seen weapons sent to Ukraine ending up in criminal hands in Finland and other countries in the region, including Sweden, Denmark, and the Netherlands. An official from Finland’s National Bureau of Investigation said they’re “going to be dealing with these arms for decades and pay the price here.”