Selenski does not play with open cards: USA and Biden lose patience
America supports Ukraine with modern weapons. Washington does not know how these are used. Now there are voices for more oversight.
In fact, Avril Haines is the most knowledgeable woman in Washington. As coordinator of the American secret services, the physicist and lawyer by training supervises the work of the 17 intelligence services – and can therefore consult all the files assembled by the slouchs and the analysts.
However, when Haines was recently asked to answer questions in a Senate committee about the unfolding war on Ukraine’s battlefields and President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s next steps, she too had to pass. It’s “very hard to say” what Ukraine’s future strategy will look like, Haines said. “We probably have a better idea of the Russian side than the Ukrainian side.”
“We have, in fact, probably more insight on the Russian side than on the Ukrainian side.” –April Haines
— Emre Peker (@EPspin) June 8, 2022
In other words, although Washington has approved civil and military aid packages worth more than $50 billion for Ukraine since the Russian invasion, President Joe Biden is largely groping in the dark. The government of Kyiv does not inform its main ally of the plans of the national armed forces. Setbacks in the fight against the Russians remain secret. Even US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, who regularly exchanges views with officials in Kyiv, has no further information, the New York Times recently reported.
Ukrainians fight with weapons manuals and Google Translate
This extremely unusual arrangement is explained by Biden’s declaration of intent not to station American troops in Ukraine. Washington also withdrew all military advisers and trainers from Kyiv, at least according to official information. The Americans thus lack direct contact with the Ukrainian armed forces and the commanding generals.
Kyiv seems to have accepted this “red line” from Biden. Politically, Zelensky sees it as an advantage that Washington does not lead Ukraine by a string. All the more impressive are the victories with which Kyiv caused a stir at the start of the war.
But the unusual partnership also has drawbacks. The Ukrainian Armed Forces are finding it increasingly difficult to use modern foreign-made weapons and aids on the battlefield. The “New York Times” recently reported on the use of night sights of the JIM LR type – high-tech binoculars capable of locating artillery targets within 10 kilometers of draft.
The problem? Ukrainian troops stationed in the Cherson region do not know how the devices work. “I tried to learn how to use it by reading the manual in English and using Google Translate to understand it,” the newspaper quoted a corporal from the Ukrainian Armed Forces as saying. (In a follow-up message, the corporal reportedly said, “Come back in a week and you’ll see I get it.”)
During a trip to Ukraine’s southern frontline on Saturday @n_yermak and I met Junior Sergeant Dmytro Pysanka. The 33-year-old was in charge of a T-12 100mm anti-tank gun and its small crew.https://t.co/Zmnug5KtQi
—Thomas Gibbons-Neff (@Tmgneff) June 7, 2022
There are also compatibility difficulties between Soviet-made weapons – once standard in the Ukrainian armed forces – and products from NATO countries. The JIM LR spits out target coordinates in a format incompatible with traditional Ukrainian maps.
Another example: the M777 howitzers, with which the Ukrainians can fire at Russian troops, are based on the measurement system common in America. They therefore cannot be dismantled and serviced with European keys.
Washington politicians want more surveillance
In America, by contrast, there are fears Kyiv could present the Biden administration with a fait accompli if the tide turns on the battlefield. The American president has repeatedly stressed that it is up to Zelenskis to end the war at the peace table – in any case, America will not impose any concessions on Ukraine. However, Biden doesn’t want to be accused of throwing money out the window.
The president is not the only one in this case. Calls are mounting on the right and left of the political spectrum for better oversight of US aid programs to Ukraine. MPs in Washington want to know how and where Kyiv is using US weapons.
At a recent hearing, Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren said she supported the spending, “but I’m very concerned about the risks of waste” given the multi-billion dollar bailout. Funds approved by Congress in Washington must be spent responsibly; so far, however, the Pentagon has not accounted for the funds distributed.
One of the reasons for this hesitant approach: the US Department of Defense does not have the desired information on US weapons. “Once this material arrives in Ukraine, it belongs to Ukraine,” an anonymous Pentagon adviser said weeks ago, when the Austin department was still providing regular updates on the progress of the war. “And what they do with it, where they store it, how they deliver it to their troops is up to them.”