The U.S. provided Ukraine with outdated and obsolete equipment to use in their fight against pro-Russians and Russian soldiers in 2015, according to a report from The Washington Post.
The Post reports that mechanics within the Ukrainian army discovered the decaying equipment while on the front lines in the east and interviews with the soldiers. Thomas Gibbons Neff wrote:
Three of the Humvees had plastic doors and windows — barely any protection at all. The tires on one of the trucks blew apart after driving only a few hundred kilometers, the result of sitting in a warehouse too long, said one mechanic.
Another infantry unit of approximately 120 men received from the Pentagon a single bulletproof vest — a type that U.S. troops stopped using in combat during the mid-2000s.
The decaying state of U.S.-supplied equipment on Ukraine’s front lines has bred distrust and lowered morale among Ukrainian troops, soldiers said. Experts said the low quality of the gear also calls into question the U.S. government’s commitment to a war that is entering its second year, with well-equipped Russian-backed separatists still firmly entrenched in Ukraine’s eastern region.
Ukraine and Russia have been at war for almost three years after the latter invaded in March 2013. Fighting has escalated in the past few months.
In March, the U.S. announced plans to send $75 million worth of military aid and equipment to Ukraine, including “armored Humvees, drones and counter-mortar radars.”
“This new assistance is part of our ongoing efforts to help sustain Ukraine’s defense and internal security operations and resist further aggression,” explained one senior administration official.
The Ukrainians expressed appreciation at the time, but now the fighters are frustrated and feel betrayed.
“If the Americans are going to send us equipment, don’t send us secondhand stuff,” stated one special forces commander.
The defense department told The Post the U.S. sent the rundown equipment because the government was “wholly unprepared” to help.
“We wanted to get things there as fast as possible, and we had no money appropriated for this crisis,” said one official. “Does that means everything was perfect? Of course not.”
Another official commented that the “Humvees might be provided… for spare parts. They’re not good enough to drive, but you can tear them apart and cannibalize [them].”
— Dan Lamothe (@DanLamothe) November 30, 2015
Unfortunately, those fighting in east Ukraine were not expecting stripped down equipment. Lt. Col. Andrei received the Humvees, but opted to buy a “cheap used SUV” since it costs $1,000 to buy a new Humvee tire.
“Why should I pay to keep replacing tires when I could just buy a car?” he said.
The Senate passed a 2016 defense spending bill in November worth $612 billion, with at least $300 million allocated for Ukraine. The bill states the Secretary of Defense and Secretary of State can provide Ukraine with “appropriate security assistance and intelligence support, include training, equipment, and logistics support, supplies and services, to military and other security forces” within their government.