Using foreign military hardware is nothing new for the Ukrainian Army, where US-made weaponry, including patrol vehicles, fast boats, and Javelin anti-tank missiles are currently in service.
Senior Ukrainian presidential aide Andriy Yermak said on Friday that the UK had expressed readiness to provide the country with a hefty lethal weapons contract, in addition to a £1 billion ($1.2 billion) loan to the Ukrainian Navy.
The statement came as President Volodymyr Zelensky met UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson in London to sign a spate of bilateral cooperation agreements.
Yermak claimed that recent mass protests in neighbouring Belarus pose a possible threat to Ukraine, which he said is seeking assurances from the EU and the UK about their willingness to help Kiev maintain national security.
In this vein, he also referred to a simmering military conflict in eastern Ukraine’s Donbass region, touting the current truce as “a huge achievement”.
Kiev launched a special military operation in southeastern Ukraine in April 2014, after local residents refused to recognise the new central authorities, who had come to power as a result of a coup. This was preceded by the residents voting for the creation of the independent Donetsk (DNR) and Lugansk (LNR) People’s Republics.
In February 2015, the two sides reached a peace agreement after talks brokered by the leaders of Russia, France, Germany, and Ukraine — the so-called Normandy Four — in the Belarusian capital Minsk.
The deal stipulates a full ceasefire, weapons withdrawal from the line of contact in Donbass, as well as constitutional reforms that would give a special status to the DNR and the LNR.
The ceasefire regime has repeatedly been violated, with both sides accusing each other of multiple breaches, undermining the terms of the accord.
Yermak’s remarks come after the Pentagon reportedly signed off on an additional $125 million in its lethal military aid to Ukraine. The latter had earlier received batches of US military hardware, including patrol vehicles, fast boats, radar systems, and Javelin anti-tank missiles.
AP Photo / Efrem Lukatsky
Ukrainian soldier armed US Javelin ride along Khreshchatyk Street
The aid is part of a $250 million package appropriated by Congress in its 2020 National Defence Authorisation Act, legislation that committed a whopping $738 billion to American defence spending, including tens of billions for US operations overseas.
Russia has repeatedly warned the global community against supplying weapons to Ukraine, saying that such actions will escalate the military conflict in the Donbass region.