‘We Couldn’t Do It’: US Plan To Track Weapons To Kyiv Depends On Ukrainian Troops

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Micaela Burrow Investigative Reporter, Defense
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While the U.S. announced a new plan to monitor weapons aid to Ukraine in October, it is relying heavily on Ukrainian personnel to self-report whether donated U.S. weapons and equipment reach their intended destination, Politico reported.

The U.S. charged State Department and non-combat Department of Defense personnel at the U.S. embassy in Kyiv to monitor weapons end use for the $20 billion in security assistance given to Ukraine as of Dec. 9. However, a significant portion of the plan involves tasking Ukrainian soldiers with inspecting aid at destinations closer to the front lines and using photos of weapons uploaded to a secure blockchain to verify end use, Politico reported, citing a Sept. 6 State Department cable seen by the outlet.

The 9-page cable signed by U.S. Ambassador Bridget Brink documents the challenges for a limited number of U.S. personnel, whose movements are heavily restricted for security reasons, in preventing U.S. weapons donations from ending up in the hands of traffickers, according to Politico.

“Above all, kinetic activity and active combat between Ukrainian and Russian forces create an environment in which standard verification measures are sometimes impracticable or impossible,” the cable stated. (RELATED: Rep. Comer Provides Laundry List Of Items For Oversight Once Republicans Take The House Majority)

Instead, the Department of Defense (DOD) planned in September to transfer much of the responsibility for end use monitoring to the Ukrainian Armed Forces, allowing the troops to “conduct its own inspections,” according to Politico. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency’s more intensive verification requirements include documenting serial numbers for smaller items like Switchblade drones and night-vision equipment, the cable stated.

“End-use monitoring is really complex right now,” DOD Inspector General spokesperson Megan Reed told Politico.

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) will require photo evidence at times, “particularly in hard to reach areas,” the cable revealed, according to Politico. The agency also contracted Deloitte, a prominent management consulting firm, to provide third-party “review” services and “identify gaps,” a common practice for USAID in other conflict monitoring zones.

In addition, the U.S. intends to establish Monitoring, Evaluation and Audit Services for Ukraine Reporting (MEASURE), which includes a three-year contract with a U.S. firm “establish an in-country presence to undertake remote and in-person monitoring with site visits as possible,” the cable stated.

Democratic Rep. Sarah Jacobs of California advocated for establishing a separate inspector general dedicated to the Ukraine crisis but highlighted the difficulties of monitoring weapons in a denied area.

“We couldn’t do it now,” she told Politico. “We don’t have enough mobility within the country to really be able to do it.”

“The end-use monitoring regime we have in place, in general, was designed to make sure the Soviet Union did not steal our trade secrets, which is not the same as making sure our weapons don’t get used for things we do not intend them to get used for,” Jacobs added.

The DOD did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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