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Wash. Post: US-Supplied Equipment Falling Apart on Ukraine's Front-Lines

Image: Wash. Post: US-Supplied Equipment Falling Apart on Ukraine's Front-Lines
The first 10 U.S. armored Humvees for the Ukrainian Army arrive and are unloaded from the U.S. military cargo aircraft in Boryspil Airport, Kiev, Ukraine, Wednesday, March 25, 2015.  (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

By    |   Tuesday, 01 Dec 2015 09:26 AM

More than $260 million in U.S-supplied non-lethal equipment to Ukraine to help it battle Russia-backed separatists is reportedly "second-hand stuff" that's decaying and obsolete.

The Washington Post, citing mechanics and interviews with front-line troops in eastern Ukraine, identified Humvees that were more than 20 years old, some with plastic doors and windows, and others with blown-out tires — and an infantry unit of some 120 men relying on just one bulletproof vest of the kind that U.S. troops stopped using 10 years ago.

"If the Americans are going to send us equipment, don't send us secondhand stuff," one unnamed Ukrainian special forces commander tells the Post.

"Despite what people think, this is still a war," another Ukrainian special forces soldier tells the newspaper.

Pentagon spokesman Army Lt. Col Joe Sowers wouldn't comment directly on the rundown equipment but said in an e-mail the United States is providing equipment and training "to help Ukraine better monitor and secure its border, operate more safely and effectively, and preserve and enforce its territorial integrity."

But one unnamed Defense Department official tells the Post the United States was unprepared for Russia's involvement in Ukraine and had to find money and respond to Ukraine's requests for aid from a "cold start."

"We wanted to get things there as fast as possible and we had no money appropriated for this crisis," said the official. "Does that mean everything was perfect? Of course not."

The Post notes new equipment has also been sent, such as night vision and first-aid kits. Troops there have also received advanced equipment such as counter artillery, counter mortar radars, and communications gear.

But the old equipment still keeps coming: another batch of outdated Humvees has been authorized — "the stuff that's sitting around somewhere that no service can use," according to one unnamed Pentagon official.

"In some cases Humvees might be provided … for spare parts. They're not good enough to drive, but you can tear them apart and cannibalize [them]," the official said.

Lt. Col. Andrei, the operations chief of the unit that received the vehicles in Ukraine, tells the Post they were supposed to be sent in working order — not stripped for parts. The cost to purchase a Humvee tire in Ukraine is roughly $1,000.

"Why would I pay to keep replacing tires when I could just buy a car?" he asked the newspaper.

Texas Republican Rep. Mac Thornberry, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said there's strong bipartisan support in Congress to help Ukraine.

The only issue, Thornberry says, is that "we can't make the president deliver it."

The administration's "overriding concern here is to avoid aggravating [Russian President Vladimir] Putin," Thornberry tells the Post. "And it has a broader effect in limiting the Ukrainians' ability to defend their country."

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More than $260 million in U.S-supplied non-lethal equipment to Ukraine to help it battle Russia-backed separatists is reportedly second-hand stuff that's decaying and obsolete.
ukraine, us-supplied, equipment, falling apart, front-lines
Tuesday, 01 Dec 2015 09:26 AM
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