U.S. to Supply Caches of Soviet Built Air Defences to Ukraine as it Presses European Allies to Donate

The United States will reportedly transfer Soviet-made air defence systems to Ukraine, according to undisclosed government sources cited by the Wall Street Journal, with these weapons intended to bolster Kiev’s forces amid ongoing conflict with neighbouring Russia. The paper elaborated that shipments of a number of systems to Ukraine from storage at the U.S. Army's Redstone Arsenal in Alabama had already begun. The U.S. acquired Soviet armaments after the end of the Cold War in 1989, and particularly after the Soviet collapse two years later, for study in order to develop adequate countermeasures. This came at a time when America's primary potential adversaries all relied heavily on Soviet weapons designs, most notably North Korea, Iraq, Iran and Syria. The 9K33 Osa short ranged platform is the only system confirmed to be supplied, and while the U.S. acquired 1980s variants of the higher end S-300 system in 1994 from Belarus these will reported not be included in the package. 

The transfers of armaments come after a Pentagon team completed a mission in December 2021 assessing Ukrainian air defence needs, although with Western militaries relying much more on aircraft rather than ground based systems for anti aircraft missions there has been little the U.S. or its allies could provide beyond shoulder fired very short ranged Stinger systems and its foreign equivalents. These are nevertheless seen to pose a threat to Russian forces, as they can be concealed when integrated into infantry formations and emit no radar signatures due to their use of infrared guidance - making them immune to anti radiation assets used for air defence suppression. The supply of the 9K33, a system from the 1980s, may well only have a symbolic impact while ridding the U.S. Military of equipment it is unlikely to have further uses for. The U.S. has supported efforts by European states to transfer Soviet built weapons, including S-300s and MiG-29 fighter jets, to Ukraine, and has reportedly also encouraged Turkey to consider providing its modern Russian-supplied S-400 systems. 



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