The limited number of US military forces inside war-torn Ukraine have begun conducting onsite weapon inspections to ensure that Ukrainian forces are properly accounting for the weapons they received from the Western allies.
A senior official from the US Department of Defense informed AP on Monday, that the presence of American troops in Ukraine is not close to the battlefield. He stated that the US troops are not allowed to undertake inspections “close to the front lines,” but stated that the troops are deployed where security conditions allow.
According to the US official, the US troops present in Ukraine have already undertaken several inspections. The inspections are being conducted by the US Defense Attache and a team from the US Office of Defense Cooperation, which is present in Kyiv.
The weapons inspection effort is part of a broader campaign by the United States, announced by the US State Department last week. The underlying objective of the campaign is to ensure that the weapons provided to Ukraine don’t end up in the possession of Russian forces, Russian proxies, or other extremist elements. The senior Pentagon official further stated that Ukrainian officials have been transparent about the weapons’ distribution so far and are supporting the inspections.
Earlier in the year, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a small number of US troops had returned to the nation’s Embassy in Kyiv to undertake security and other tasks. However, US President Joe Biden denied any combat role of the US military inside Ukraine amid the war with Russia.
The American officials have persistently faced questions from members of Congress over how the administration is accounting for its supply of arms to Ukraine since the onset of the war, which is worth billions of dollars.
However, the Biden administration remained tight-lipped regarding the details over the fears that it might tip off potential smugglers on evasion techniques amid the state of the conflict in Ukraine.
Meanwhile, the plan implemented by the US State Department includes initiatives of short, medium, and longer terms with aims to bolster US and Ukrainian oversight of the supply of weapons to Kyiv, particularly advanced missile systems and anti-aircraft devices. The US State Department initiative further aims to strengthen Ukraine’s aerial and border security to combat the misuse of weapons and prevent possible trafficking of arms amid the war.
Moreover, according to the US State Department, Kyiv’s intense demand for weapons to perform against the adversary in the conflict has been the impending black-market proliferation of small arms, portable air defense systems, and anti-tank weapons such as Javelin launchers. The department cited the seizure of arms by the Russian forces as the main cause of concern and warned that Russia could use the seized weapons to develop countermeasures or conduct false-flag operations.