Desperate Ukraine says US ‘bureaucracy’ no excuse for not supplying essential weapons and ammunition

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A monument to Taras Shevchenko is seen near a residential building destroyed by Russian army shelling in Borodyanka, Kyiv region, north-central Ukraine.

Hennadi Minchenko | Nurphoto | Getty Images

WASHINGTON — A Ukrainian delegation this week warned U.S. officials in Washington that security aid programs were not arriving quickly enough in the embattled country, a plea that comes amid Western security claims that the Kremlin will step up his military campaign soon.

Over the past week, the delegation of Ukrainian civil society advocates, military veterans and former government officials met with 45 lawmakers, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, officials from the State Departments and the Defense and the National Security Council at the White House.

“This is the 44th day of the war that we were supposed to lose on the third day,” began Daria Kaleniuk, who heads the Anti-Corruption Action Center of Ukraine, a national organization that assists parliament and the office of the Prime Minister. Ukrainian prosecutor.

“What we need now is to arm our military and home defense units so we can prevent more backyard graves of innocent people,” she said on Friday.

Kaleniuk added that U.S. lawmakers and Biden administration officials have presented a number of justifications why certain weapons systems cannot be delivered, citing logistical issues, lack of inventory and bureaucratic limitations.

“The six-year-old boy who visits his mother’s grave in his garden doesn’t want to hear about bureaucracy as an excuse for not delivering weapons to Ukraine,” Kaleniuk said.

“This is an extraordinary situation where extraordinary measures must be taken. Raise your bureaucracy, raise it now. The President of the United States has tremendous power, Congress has tremendous power. We know it is possible” , she added.

In the courtyard of their home, 6-year-old Vlad Tanyuk stands by the grave of his mother Ira Tanyuk, who died of hunger and war stress, on the outskirts of kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, April 4, 2022 .

Rodrigue Abd | PA

Earlier in the week, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba also called on NATO allies to catalyze the delivery of their arms pledges.

“Either you help us now, and I’m talking about days, not weeks, or your help will come too late,” Kuleba told reporters at NATO headquarters on April 7.

“I have no doubt that Ukraine will have the necessary weapons to fight. The question is the timetable. This discussion is not about the list of weapons. The discussion is about the timetable, when will we get them and what is crucial,” he said. , adding “people are dying today, the offensive is happening today”.

Asked about Kuleba’s comments, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken played down fears that allies were withholding weapons explicitly requested by Ukraine.

“They’re coming up with new systems that they think would be useful and effective,” Blinken said from NATO headquarters.

“We have used our own expertise, particularly the Pentagon, to help determine what indeed we believe could be effective. What the Ukrainians will be ready to use as soon as they have it, and what what we actually have access to and can get to them in real time,” he said, adding that the United States was working quickly to get the appropriate weapons to Ukraine.

Blinken’s comments echo those of US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Chairman of the US Army Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley. Austin and Milley told lawmakers last week that some weapon systems on Ukraine’s wish list require months of training to work.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (left) meets with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at NATO Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, April 6, 2022.

Evelyn Hockstein | AFP | Getty Images

“Our goal is to give Ukraine what it needs, what it asks for, period,” said Olena Tregub, Ukraine’s former director of international aid at the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade.

“We need strike drones, long and medium range strike capabilities, because as we sit here with you, the Russians are moving huge columns, huge forces into southeastern Ukraine “Tregub said.

Western intelligence reports have recently assessed that Russian forces will soon concentrate their military power in eastern and southern Ukraine after weeks of stalled ground advances on the capital, kyiv.

Over the past six weeks, Russian forces on the ground in Ukraine have faced a host of logistical challenges on the battlefield, including reports of fuel and food shortages as well as frostbite.

“When Russia started this war, its initial goals were to seize the capital of kyiv, replace the Zelensky government and take control of much if not all of Ukraine,” he said. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan to reporters at the White House on April 4.

Sullivan said US officials believe the Kremlin is now revising its focus in the war.

A senior US defense official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to share new details from the Pentagon, said Russian troops, once near kyiv, are now being replenished with additional manpower. in Belarus.

The official said the Pentagon believes these troops will soon be deployed to fight in Ukraine. When asked where the troops were likely to go, the official said the Pentagon believed the majority would move to the Donbass region, the site of an ongoing conflict since 2014.

A woman walks past destroyed buildings in the town of Borodianka on April 6, 2022, where the Russian retreat last week left clues of the battle waged to hold a grip on the town, just 50 kilometers (30 miles) to the north -west of the Ukrainian capital kyiv.

Genia Savilov | AFP | Getty Images

“We need protection for our skies,” said Maria Berlinska, a Ukrainian army veteran who fought in the Donbass conflict. She asked U.S. lawmakers in a round of meetings in Washington, DC, for “serious weapons,” including medium-range surface-to-air missile systems, jets, tanks and armored vehicles.

“We’re almost out of ammunition. If you don’t have ammunition, you can’t do anything,” she said, adding that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war would likely spill over into Ukraine.

“It’s very naive to think that if Putin takes Ukraine he will stop,” added Berlinska, who trains Ukrainian military volunteers in aerial reconnaissance.

“If we don’t win this war, it will be on NATO territory because Putin won’t stop. He has bigger plans and he needs to be stopped in Ukraine,” she warned.

Ukrainian soldiers walk next to destroyed Russian tanks and armored vehicles, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine, in Bucha, Kyiv region, Ukraine, April 6, 2022.

Alkis Konstantinidis | Reuters

Since invading Moscow on Feb. 24, the Biden administration has deployed more than 100,000 U.S. troops to NATO member countries and authorized $1.7 billion in security assistance.

In addition, the NATO alliance has prepared more than 140 warships as well as 130 aircraft on heightened alert. Meanwhile, NATO constantly warned Putin that an attack on one NATO member state would be considered an attack on all, triggering Article 5, the group’s cornerstone.

Ukraine, which has applied for NATO membership since 2002, is bordered by four NATO allies: Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania. Poland currently hosts the majority of troops from the 30-member alliance and has so far taken the lion’s share of refugees fleeing Putin’s war.

“I think we have proven to the world that we are not going to surrender because we know that if we surrender there will be concentration camps. Putin is not even hiding what he is going to do with the Ukrainians” , said Anti-Corruption Action. said Kaleniuk of the center.

“It’s genocide, the elimination of an entire nation and I’m not exaggerating,” she added.

The UN has confirmed 1,793 civilian deaths and 2,439 injuries in Ukraine since Russia invaded its former Soviet neighbor on February 24.

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