War In Europe: How US Is Using Its Secretly Acquired Soviet Air Defence Systems

Swarajya Staff

Mar 22, 2022, 02:19 PM | Updated 04:22 PM IST

Ukrainian forces fighting with Russians
Ukrainian forces fighting with Russians

Decades ago, through a clandestine programme, the Pentagon acquired Soviet made air defence systems. These systems were most likely acquired by US to examine Soviet military technology.

According to a report by Wall Street Journal, US is sending these air defence systems to Ukraine.

These systems include the SA-8 short range surface to air missile system. It can be moved easily with the ground forces and provide cover from helicopters and aircrafts. These weapons will be useful to the Ukrainians as they are familiar with Soviet made systems.

In just one month, the Biden administration has approved more than $1 billion to Ukraine in military aid. Out of this a $800 million package was announced just last week.

Somewhat understandably, the US government is being reticent to lay out which equipments are being sent.

“Operational security matters to the Ukrainians, right now, they're fighting for their country, and the Pentagon is not going to be detailing publicly the tools with which they are doing that,” press secretary John Kirby told reporters yesterday.

S-300 is another Soviet made equipments that US had secretly acquired. S-300 is a long range air defence system. According to the report this weapon won't be sent to Ukraine. There are also some reports indicating that the Ukrainians already have this system.

It is worth flagging that under the new annual government spending bill that became a law last week, President Biden is authorised to transfer such equipments.

This legislation approves a $13.6 billion aid package to Ukraine. Out of this $13.6 billion, around $3.5 billion will go to the Pentagon. This $3.5 billion will go to Pentagon to backfill equipment being sent by the Pentagon to Ukraine.

Kremlin on its part has publicly warned that any western country which provides certain weapons to Ukraine, such as missile defence systems, would be perceived by Moscow as entering the war.

To maintain plausible deniability, US is using other NATO countries as a middleman. Right now, US is attempting to persuade Slovakia to send their S-300 to Ukraine.

The US attempted something similar to send fighter jets to Ukraine, using Poland, however that plan never came to fruition as Poland refused to play ball and said that they'll send their fighter jets to air base in Germany and then US can do the needful.

US, obviously didn't agree to it, as that defeated the entire purpose of Washington's plan of maintaining plausible deniability.

Slovakia, as of now, is seeking a guarantee that they will receive a 'proper replacement' soon. There has been no agreement between the NATO countries yet.

However, that might change. President Biden is scheduled to travel to Brussels this week for a NATO summit. The purpose of his visit is discussing with allies ways to help Ukraine.

A US official was quoted in the report, saying that, "we are continuing to work with our allies and key partners to surge new assistance, including Soviet- or Russian-origin antiaircraft systems and the necessary ammunition to employ them, every day to Ukraine".

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