High-tech weaponry floods Ukraine as British and US planes deliver weapons in a race against time to supply Kiev

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A flood of weapons and equipment has poured into Ukraine from Britain, the United States and other Western countries in recent days in a race against time to strengthen Kiev’s defences.

Some 20,000 anti-tank missiles, hundreds of anti-aircraft guns and five Russian-made Mi-17 military helicopters seized by US forces in Afghanistan were among the shipments.

Cargo planes, including RAF and US Air Force aircraft, have flown dozens of missions to deliver military aid to Poland and elsewhere on NATO’s eastern flank, including Romania. Once near the border, they moved to Ukraine by road.

The major operation, which is ongoing and understood to involve weaponry from more than a dozen countries, has been carried out at breakneck speed to try to ensure aid reaches the Ukrainian military before Russian air and ground forces advance to positions where they can routinely intercept or destroy. convoy

Flight tracking data analysis by I shows seven US military cargo planes moving between eastern Poland and Germany’s large Ramstein air base on Monday, as well as a Ukrainian Air Force Antonov AN-124 large cargo plane believed to be transporting donated munitions between Estonia and Poland.

An RAF C-17 Globemaster aircraft believed to be carrying supplies from the UK arrived in eastern Poland overnight from RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire.

The British Ministry of Defence, which supplied about 2,000 anti-armor missiles to Kiev shortly before Vladimir Putin’s invasion, confirmed yesterday that it had continued to deliver weapons since the Russian attack. But the Defense Ministry declined to disclose any details sent for fear of giving Moscow information about Ukraine’s capabilities.

However, it is clear that the equipment requested by the government of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky arrived in considerable quantities.

In the immediate aftermath of the invasion, Defense Secretary Ben Wallace convened a crisis summit that withdrew pledges of military aid from 25 countries, with the US and UK moving to provide a “logistics node” to organize and transport supplies in Europe. . in western Ukraine.

Material is being shipped across the Ukrainian border to undisclosed locations in a major logistics operation believed to involve civilian and military volunteers in an effort to ensure weaponry reaches the front lines in major cities and beyond. The urgency of the operation was fueled by fears that Russian advances would soon put Kremlin forces in a position to attack or intercept these supply lines.

According to Pentagon and Western security sources, some 17,000 anti-tank guns have arrived in Ukraine since the invasion began on February 24.

In a significant development, at least 300 US-made “Stinger” missiles, capable of shooting down helicopters and low-flying fighter jets, have also arrived via Washington and other NATO countries.

The missile, effective to altitudes of 15,000 feet and promised by countries including the Netherlands, Italy, Germany and Canada, is a potentially vital tool for the Ukrainian military as it seeks to counter Russia’s air superiority. Social media posts showed footage of a series of incidents over the weekend purportedly depicting the destruction of a Russian plane by a Ukrainian missile.

US officials yesterday confirmed that about 70 per cent of the $350m (£266m) military aid approved by President Joe Biden on February 26 had been delivered within five days. A Pentagon official said: “We have recently accelerated the process of identifying our requirements and speeding up our consultations with the Ukrainian side as well, speaking with them on a daily basis, in contrast to the regular meetings we were used to before this crisis.”

Debate continues over the supply to Ukraine by Poland of Soviet-era MiG-29 aircraft, for which Ukrainian pilots are already trained. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said over the weekend that the United States was “very, very actively” pursuing Washington’s plans to supply Poland with much more advanced F-16 jets to replace the MiGs.

At least publicly, Warsaw is calm about the idea, perhaps out of fear of escalating tensions with Moscow after the Kremlin warned that supplying Ukraine with planes could be construed as direct involvement in the war. A Polish minister said yesterday that “Polish aircraft will not fight for Ukraine.”

The debate hits at the heart of another difficult question raging in Western capitals, namely the point at which Moscow risks seizing military support for Ukraine as if it were crossing the line into direct conflict and thereby threatening to escalate the conflict.

NATO has been careful on this basis to rule out implementing a no-fly zone over Ukraine, despite strong requests from Kiev to do so.

It is understandable that, for the same reason, Western countries providing intelligence on Russian troop deployments do so not in “real time”, but with a delay of an hour or two to avoid the Kremlin’s accusations of providing information about live targets.

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Roderick Gilbert

"Entrepreneur. Internet fanatic. Certified zombie scholar. Friendly troublemaker. Bacon expert."

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